The Stalin-led DMK government in Tamil Nadu has decided to set up a high-level committee for agriculture at state-level. Set up under the chairmanship of chief secretary, it will review farming-related schemes and suggest solutions for assorted problems faced by farmers. The committee will meet once in a month with respective secretaries and heads of agriculture and agriculture-related departments.
This was announced by Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare M.R.K. Panneerselvam while presenting the maiden agriculture budget for the state on Saturday. This comes a day after the revised state budget for 2021-22 was presented by Finance Minister P.T.R. Palanivel Thiagarajan.
The minister said a separate division would be set up in the agriculture department for organic farming. The farmers who adopted organic farming would be encouraged with provision of inputs subsidy, he said.
Free electricity is provided to 22,19,000 electric motors of farmers in Tamil Nadu. “Considering the difficulties faced by farmers in cultivation and to extend continuous help to them, the Government is paying on an average of Rs.20,000 per pump set per annum to the Electricity Board on behalf of farmers. “For this purpose, an amount of Rs. 4508.23 crore has been allocated to Tamil Nadu Electricity Board,” he added.
For the Kharif 2020 season, an amount of Rs.107.54 crore had been paid as compensation to 1,64,173 farmers under crop insurance scheme. For the special season, a sum of Rs.304.23 crore as the state share of premium subsidy has been paid as first instalment to insurance companies. “The government is taking action to release a sum of Rs.1248.92 crore as second instalment to the insurance companies to enable the affected farmers to get compensation for the samba paddy.
The Centre, he said, had reduced its share in the premium amount under the Crop Insurance Scheme and, consequently, the share of the state had increased significantly. “Due to the severe financial crunch, the continuous implementation of the Crop Insurance Scheme is very difficult and challenging,” he said. Hence, the state had requested the centre to revise and fix the premium subsidy ratio, he added.
The state government has also decided to sanction Rs.150 a tonne of sugarcane as “Special Incentive” directly to the bank account of farmers who supplied Sugarcane for the 2020-21 crushing season. By this, the sugarcane farmers would get Rs.2,900 a tonne as cane price. The State has allocated Rs.138.83 crore during 2021-22 for the benefit of one lakh sugarcane farmers. From 2016-17 to 2019-20 crushing seasons, Rs.2750 a tonne was paid as sugarcane price. There was no hike in the price for the past four seasons. Consequently, the sugarcane cultivation area was declining considerably, the minister said.
In his maiden agriculture budget, the minister announced a slew of measures for the welfare of farmers. “Presenting an exclusive agriculture budget itself is a noble vision. The vision is derived from conscious awareness,” he said. He broadly set forth a three-pronged objective as part of the vision.
Firstly, the aim is to bring an additional area of 11.75 lakh hectare under net area sown so as to increase the present cropped area from 60 percent to 75 percent. Efforts will be made to convert fallow lands as productive lands. Secondly, efforts would be made to increase the double-cropped area to 20 lakh hectares from the present 10 lakh hectares in 10 years. Thirdly, the focus would be on improving the state’s ranking in agricultural productivity for select crops.
It is a detailed budget, sketching out the government plans and way forward across different segments of agriculture.