In an interview with The Daily Guardian, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the Union Finance Minister’s announcements would help achieve India’s goal of selfdependence and self-reliance.
Q. How will the measures announced by the Finance Minister help farmers?
A. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always given precedence to the agriculture sector, and many relief measures have been taken by the Central government. It’s a result of these measures that crops have been harvested on time and are being sold now. Let me tell you, 256 lakh tonnes of wheat have been bought by the government and 60 lakh tonnes of rice has been bought as well. The farmers should be felicitated for working tirelessly amidst the corona pandemic. The farmers of the country have exceeded expectations and they deserve all our respect. As compared to the last season, the farmers have grown 38% more crops. I am glad to say that in the package announced on Friday under the Kisan credit card, over 2.5 crore people have been included. These farmers will soon come under KCC and they will be given loans worth Rs 2 lakh crore. This will support the farmers and help the economy of the country grow. Every year, the rural banks of the country get over Rs 90,000 crore loan via NABARD but this time rural banks will be provided Rs 30,000 crore more via NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), which will ultimately help farmers. I welcome all the announcements made for rural India and farmers in the Finance Minister’s package.
Q. Would giving a loan to farmers at low interests suffice?
A. One thing is that giving donations to others means empowering them. The PM’s vision is to make India selfsufficient which c a n’ t h a p p e n without doling out loans. Only then people will have the will power to work hard so that country can develop. At this crucial time when the world is looking up to India, we need to empower the poorest of the poor in our country. The PM had earlier promised 5 kg of free grains to the underprivileged and that helped them temporarily. But, giving free food isn’t a permanent solution and that’s why we are also giving hassle-free, low-interest loans to the poor. Even the 8 crore migrants, who are facing a lot of hardships now, will get a major relief from ‘one nation, one ration card’. We are already giving them free 5 kg of grains and 1 kg of chana dal. These measures will help not only the farmers but also the entire economy.
Q. When will the farmers get the promised money?
A. After farmers sell their produce and the state governments send us the bill, the state governments will get their money within two days. The Centre has enough money, the payment to farmers will not be delayed as the money needs to be transferred to their account. As soon as state governments send us the bills, we will disburse the payments immediately.
Q. What happens if a farmer isn’t able to pay back his loan?
A. Let’s not even think that farmers will not be able to repay the loans. I look at rural and agricultural affairs very closely, there are over 63 lakh self-help groups and they have given loans of over Rs 2 lakh crore to the poor and the NPA is zero there. The poor people always pay back, we need to trust farmers. They always pay back but we need to ensure that they get loans at a low interest and without a lot of paperwork.
Q. Since we are talking about selfdependence, what are you planning to do to reduce the import of agri items like saffron and fresh fruits, etc?
A. Under PM Modi’s leadership, we are brainstorming on how to reduce our dependence on other countries. We are trying to reduce imports from other countries. As far as oil import is concerned, we are buying oil, increasing MSP and trying to ensure that we import as low as possible. We are already working in this direction and our goal is eventually to make our country and our farmers self-sufficient.