New Delhi: Amid the opposition uproar over the three agriculture-related Bills, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has said that the Modi government had accepted the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations for the agricultural sector in toto and implemented all of them.
All the recommendations made by the Commission in its five-part report in 2006 were accepted by this government to transform the agricultural sector and the state of farmers in the country, Shekhawat, who is also the General Secretary of the BJP’s Farmers Wing, said at a media briefing here.
“Prof MS Swaminathan has himself accepted that it is the first time a government at the Centre has shown concern for the agriculture sector and worked for the welfare of farmers,” he said.
Shekhawat said that the Modi government had taken a number of measures since 2014 for the welfare of farmers like increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP) and procurement of food grains, oilseeds and pulses, strengthening of irrigation network and improvement in credit facilities.
The National Commission on Farmers was set up in November 2004 under the chairmanship of MS Swaminathan to address farmers’ suicides in India. The panel is popularly known as the Swaminathan Commission.
The Minister said that it was the Modi government’s commitment to ensure procurement of maximum agricultural produce by state agencies and to double the income of farmers by giving them MSPs of over 50 per cent on production cost.
Shekhawat also pointed out that the MSP of wheat and rice in the 2020-21 season had increased by 40 and 43 per cent respectively in comparison with 2013-14, while it jumped by over 32 per cent in case of peanuts and 65 per cent in case of gram.
He added that the number of government procurement centres had also increased by over 77 per cent from nearly 36,000 during the earlier United Progressive Alliance regime to about 64,000 now.
“Since we have evolved from a food-deficit to a food-sufficient country, our government has also moved from a production-centric to profitability-centric approach. We want our farmers to get the maximum remunerative price for their produce,” the Minister said.
The Rajya Sabha on Sunday cleared the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020. The Lok Sabha had earlier passed the two Bills.
The Bills will now go to the President for his assent.
While the government calls it a “watershed moment” vis-a-vis agricultural reforms, the opposition has termed the proposed laws as “death warrants” for farmers.
As for NDA ally Shiromani Akali Dal opposing the two Bills and Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal resigning from the Union Cabinet, Shekhawat said the BJP’s oldest ally had done so under “political compulsions”.