Promising to create a new breed of “smart farmers by introducing smart farming”, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday told the Lok Sabha that the government was open to improving its welfare schemes, including the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) for crop insurance.
With several members raising concerns about the working of the scheme on the ground, Mr. Tomar invited suggestions from members on how to make it better.
Easier, more useful
“We are working on how can we make the PM Fasal Bima Yojana more easier, more useful, more beneficial,” Mr. Tomar said, and added, “Earlier also, there was the PM Fasal Bima...Today, there is focus on PM Fasal Bima.” The Minister said neither he nor the Prime Minister considers the crop insurance scheme as foolproof.
The Minister made these remarks during the passage of the Demand for Grants under the Ministries of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, and the Rural Development Ministry.
Mr. Tomar said the government is aiming to provide easy access to farm credit and plans to ensure that every farmer gets to own a Kisan Credit Card towards this end.
The Minister also informed the House that over 10 crore Soil Health Cards have already been given and another 9.82 crore cards are being processed. And over 10,000 soil testing labs have been set up.
“Earlier, a doctor’s son would want to become a doctor, children want to take the professions of their parents, but a farmer’s son would never want to be a farmer. But after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the mindset has changed and more educated people are coming in to agriculture and are using technology,” Mr. Tomar said.
Responding to doubts expressed by Opposition MPs regarding the doubling of farmers’ income, the Minister said a roadmap has been put in place but the results would not be visible in a day.
On rural development, the Minister highlighted the success of schemes like MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), among others.
“We have improved MNREGA, but I am not in favour of the scheme continuing forever as it is meant only to lift people out of poverty,” Mr. Tomar said, and argued that poverty should be wiped out.
Mr. Tomar said his Ministry had set ambitious targets like building metalled roads under the PMGSY by the end of this year, and to build around 1.95 crore dwellings in the next two years under PMAY.
He said the Ministry focuses on Below Poverty Line families to provide benefits like toilets (Swachh Bharat), houses (PMAY), free LPG connection (Ujjwala) and free power connection (PM-SAUBHAGYA).
While Opposition MP N. K. Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) withdrew the cut motion he had moved on the issue, Samajwadi Party stalwart Mulayam Singh Yadav asked the Minister to tell the grim reality of the farmers to the House, and Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury pointed out that the Minister did not address the issue of farmers’ suicides that is “as high as 36 daily suicides”.