FM Nirmala Sitharaman signals further aid to farm sector
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman Wednesday praised the strength of the farm sector during the coronavirus pandemic and backed more support for the sector in the post-pandemic era, amid plans for a second dose of fiscal stimulus to revive the stalling economy.
“When the PM repeats that he wants to double the income of the people engaged in these activities, it has a very strong case. We owe it to them to improve their lives and income. In the post-pandemic era, agriculture has to be seen as our strength which we have to absolutely give support to,” Sitharaman said, while virtually addressing an event organized by Disha Bharat, a Bengaluru-based non-government organization.
While manufacturing and services activities dipped significantly during the pandemic, agriculture activities have remained more or less unaffected, with the government expecting record food grain production this year.
Sitharaman said last month that agriculture is driving an economic recovery. “Now, the estimate for kharif crop has also come. We can clearly see agriculture sector is driving the revival. Activities related to rural economy — whether it is tractor sales, agriculture tools, logistics dealing with food sector -- all are up and above,” she had said at a USIBC event.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday launched a ₹1 lakh crore agriculture infrastructure fund to give a leg-up to post-harvest management and marketing of agricultural produce, aimed to help improve farm-gate prices. The scheme is expected to provide better warehousing and cold storage facilities for farmers besides creating new jobs as food processing and post-harvest facilities are set up in rural areas.