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A number of steps have been taken to end the farmers' plight, the government said in the Lok Sabha today but gave no commitment to waive the farm loans nationwide as demanded by several members, prompting a walkout by ally Shiv Sena and opposition Congress. Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, however, said the newly-elected BJP government in Uttar Pradesh will waive loans of farmers in the state and the financial burden would be borne by the Centre. Singh was replying to a debate on Demand for Grants for the Agriculture, which was approved by the House later. During the debate which had started yesterday, members from several parties demanded that the government should waive loans of all the farmers across the country to bring down the number of suicides. The members had said that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, had promised to waive farm loans in that state if the BJP came to power there, the same step should be taken for farmers in rest of the country. But the minister gave no such assurance in his 90-minute speech, prompting members of BJP ally Shiv Sena and opposition Congress to stage a walkout. Singh stressed on reforming the traditional loan system used by farmers, He noted that in 2013-14, Rs 7 lakh crore were provided through institutions to agriculture sector and the figure shot up to Rs 9 lakh crore in 2016-17 and became Rs 10 lakh crore in 2017-18. Alleging that not much has done over the last 68 years to end the plight of farmers, the minister said the NDA government has taken steps to do so and it will take some time for the results to manifest. He said the government is providing special focus to animal husbandary, poultry and fishery with a view to double the income of farmers by 2020. Responding to the opposition charge that the government has done nothing to double the income of farmers by 2022, he said, "We are focussing on allied activities like animal husbandry, dairy development, polutry and fisheries.
These are aimed at augmenting the income of farmers."
The government, he added, has taken various other initiatives, which include e-pashudhan portal, breeding centres and Nakul Swasth card for animals.
The e-portal launched for selling farm products saw a sale of Rs 13,500 crore, he said.
The Agriculture Minister said that unlike under the UPA regime, the NDA government is not only spending fully the allocations made in the budget, but also exceeding them. The NDA government, he said, has gradually increased the payment to fishermen for the two-month period during which fishing is prohibited, from Rs 600 to Rs 3,000 per month. Blue revolution, he further said, was one of the focus areas of his government, meant to increase the income of fishermen. The government is also working on a scheme to enable fishermen to go in for deep sea fishing in modern boats, Singh said. Observing that the average size of farms is gradually coming down, the minister said the government was trying to address the problems of small and marginal farmers as it may not be viable to do farming profitiably on small pieces of land. He, however, took comfort from the fact that agriculture sector was expected to record a growth of 4 per cent in 2016-17 and country was likely to have record foograin output. The results have started showing, he said, adding, "We must be doing something right." To an aside by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge that Singh has to take permission for everything from RSS, the minister said he was an RSS functionary from the very beginning and need not take permission from the organisation. He said the states should lay stress on implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the flagship programme of the NDA government, to provide protection to farmers.