New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) Despite difficult circumstances, harvesting of rabi crops and sowing of summer crops are going on uninterrupted as the government has given highest priority to the agriculture sector even during the lockdown, said Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday.
Addressing a press conference here, Agriculture Minister informed that harvesting of pulses and oilseed crops of this rabi season is already complete and wheat harvesting has also reached to 88 percent of total area under wheat crop this year across the country. He hoped the remaining area of wheat crop would be harvested in a week.
He said that though wheat procurement commenced late but it has gathered pace as a total 117 lakh tonnes of wheat has been procured so far. Procurement of paddy grown this rabi season reached to 18 lakh tonnes while five lakh tonnes of pulses have been procured so far, said the Minister.
The Agriculture Minister was glad to mention the figures of summer crop sowing as the area under summer crop has reached 57.07 lakh hectares, 38 per cent higher than the acreage in the corresponding period last year.
Tomar said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given primacy to the progress of ‘Gaon, Garib, Kisan’ (Villages, Poor and Farmers).
He said no previous Government has paid as much attention to Agriculture & Farmers Welfare as this Government.
Highlighting the farmer centric schemes of the central government, the Agriculture Minister said around 9.39 crore farmer families have got the benefits of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) as a sum of Rs 71,000 crore has been transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries since inception of the scheme.
Tomar said the PM-KISAN scheme has benefited farmers immensely even during this COVID season as the Government has transferred Rs 17,986 crore to farmers since March 24, 2020.
Installment due for the period of April 1 to July 31, 2020 has been paid to 8.13 crore beneficiaries within the first fortnight of April itself.
Speaking on the occasion, Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog said the Agriculture sector will be the mainstay of India’s economy and the Government aims to keep the GDP growth buoyant during the current fiscal despite the lockdown bringing almost 60 per cent industrial activity to a standstill.
With higher prices of crops assured, this will encourage farmers and contribute to Agriculture growth estimated at 3 per cent of long term average, he said.
He also informed that fertilizer offtake of 13.5 lakh metric tonnes this month upto April 28 is 5 per cent more than 12.86 lakh tonnes in April last year while Krishi Vigyan Kendras have sold 20 percent more seeds in the four months this year as compared to the same period last year.