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Giving a major boost to the pro-farmer initiatives of the Government and in keeping with its commitment and dedication for the Annadata, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a new Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA). The Scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018.

This is an unprecedented step taken by Govt. of India to protect the farmers’ income which is expected to go a long way towards the welfare of farmers. Government has already increased the MSP of kharif crops by following the principle of 1.5 times the cost of production. It is expected that the increase in MSP will be translated to farmer’s income by way of robust procurement mechanism in coordination with the State Governments.

Components of PM-AASHA:

The new Umbrella Scheme includes the mechanism of ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers and is comprised of

Price Support Scheme (PSS),
Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS)
Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS).

The other existing schemes of Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) for procurement of paddy, wheat and nutri-cereals/coarse grains and of Ministry of Textile for cotton and jute will be continued for providing MSP to farmers for these crops.

Cabinet has also decided that participation of private sector in procurement operation needs to piloted so that on the basis of learnings the ambit of private participation in procurement operations may be increased. Therefore in addition to PDPS.

It has been decided that for oilseeds, states have the option to roll out Private Procurement Stockist Scheme (PPSS) on pilot basis in selected district/APMC(s) of district involving the participation of private stockiest. The pilot district/selected APMC(s) of district will cover one or more crop of oilseeds for which MSP is notified. Since this is akin to PSS, in that in involves physical procurement of the notified commodity, it shall substitute PSS/PDPS in the pilot districts.

The selected private agency shall procure the commodity at MSP in the notified markets during the notified period from the registered farmers in consonance with the PPSS Guidelines, whenever the prices in the market fall below the notified MSP and whenever authorized by the state/UT government to enter the market and maximum service charges up to 15% of the notified MSP will be payable.

Expenditure:

The Cabinet has decided to give additional government guarantee of Rs.16,550 crore making it Rs. 45,550 crore in total.

In addition to this, budget provision for procurement operations has also been increased and Rs. 15,053 crore is sanctioned for PM-AASHA implementation. The scheme henceforth is a reflection of Government’s commitment and dedication to our ‘Annadata’.

Procurement over the years:

During financial years 2010-14 total procurement was Rs. 3500 crore only whereas during financial years 2014-18, it has risen 10 times and reached to Rs. 34,000 crore. For procurement of these agri-commodities during 2010-14, Government Guarantee of Rs. 2500 crore was provided with expenditure of only Rs. 300 crore; while during 2014-18, Guarantee amount has been increased to Rs. 29,000 crore with expenditure of Rs. 1,000 crore.

Details:

Government of India is working with the holistic approach of solving any issue rather than in fragments. Increasing MSP is not adequate and it is more important that farmers should get full benefit of the announced MSP. For this, government realizes that it is essential that if price of the agriculture produce market is less than MSP, then in that case State Government and Central Government should purchase either at MSP or work in a manner to provide MSP for the farmers through some other mechanism. With this approach, Cabinet has approved the Umbrella Scheme of PM-AASHA with three sub-schemes i.e. Price Support Scheme (PSS), Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) and pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PDPS).

In Price Support Scheme (PSS), physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds and Copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies with proactive role of State governments. It is also decided that in addition to NAFED, Food Cooperation of India (FCI) will take up PSS operations in states /districts. The procurement expenditure and losses due to procurement will be borne by Central Government as per norms.

Under Price Deficiency Payment Scheme this scheme (PDPS), it is proposed to cover all oilseeds for which MSP is notified. In this direct payment of the difference between the MSP and the selling/modal price will be made to pre-registered farmers selling his produce in the notified market yard through a transparent auction process. All payment will be done directly into registered bank account of the farmer. This scheme does not involve any physical procurement of crops as farmers are paid the difference between the MSP price and Sale/modal price on disposal in notified market. The support of central government for PDPS will be given as per norms.

Pro-farmer initiatives of the Government:

The Government is committed to realizing the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022. The emphasis is on enhancing productivity, reducing cost of cultivation and strengthening post-harvesting management, including market structure. Several market reforms have been initiated. These include Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Act, 2017 and Model Contract Farming and Services Act, 2018. Many States have taken steps to adopt these through legislation.

Efforts are on for a new market architecture, so as to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices on their produce. These include setting up of Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) so as to promote 22,000 number of retail markets in close proximity of farm gate; competitive and transparent wholesale trade at APMC through eNAM and a robust and pro-farmer export policy.

Besides, several other pro-farmers’ initiatives such as implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and distribution of Soil Health Cards have been undertaken. The commitment for farmer welfare is also reflected by unprecedented decision of announcing minimum support price based on the formula of 1.5 times the cost of cultivation.

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Fifth Governing Council Meeting of NITI Aayog Concludes
June 15, 2019
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The fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held under the chairmanship of the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan today. It was attended by the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, 27 Chief Ministers and the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, apart from Union Ministers, who are ex-officio members and special invitees.

Setting the tone of the meeting, the PM emphasized that this is the meeting of Team India. The PM has asked the states to contribute and improve their contribution in meeting the GDP target. While there may be political differences, in this meeting people of India expect that this team India should take all steps to realize the aspiration of ever Indian. The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog as a platform to inspire cooperative federalism, stressing the need to collectively combat poverty, unemployment, drought, pollution, pockets of under-development and all such factors that constrain India’s progress. He emphasized that the goal is to realize the potential of this great country, to make a New India by 2022 and a USD five trillion economy by 2024.

The Prime Minister emphasized the need for every State to focus on increasing its share in the country’s GDP by evaluating the export potential of the State and determining the steps necessary for increasing exports and boosting employment.

Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog urged all States to offer their suggestions on the policy recommendations contained in NITI Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ so that they can be tweaked to suit the ground realities in individual States. 

On the Agenda before the Fifth Council Meetingwere the following items:

  1. Rain-Water Harvesting
  2. Drought Situation and Relief Measures
  3. Aspirational Districts Programme – Achievements And Challenges
  4. Transforming Agriculture: Need For Structural Reforms With Special Emphasis On:
    1. Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act
    2. Essential Commodities Act (ECA)
  5. Security Related Issues with Specific Focus On LWE Districts 

The Prime Minister appreciated the efforts of the States towards water conservation and urged all States to streamline and implement innovative water management measures. The creation of the Ministry of ‘Jal Shakti’ is a key step by the Union Government to develop an integrated and holistic perspective on water as a developmental resource.

There was broad consensus on reducing water wastage, promoting efficient water conservation practices across States, with rain-water harvesting to be undertaken at the household and community level with proactive policy and investment support. Various Chief Ministers presented best practices from their respective states which can serve as templates for replication across the country.

Many States such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka have adopted good practices in water conservation and rainwater harvesting. Someinnovative steps include the Jalyukt Shivirin Maharashtra which made 11,000 villages drought free, Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavalamban Abhiyaan which resulted in five feet rise in groundwater in 21 districts, and Mission Kakatiyain Telangana which irrigates 19 Lakh Acres. Similarly, Neeru Chettuin Andhra Pradesh, Sujalam Sufalamin Gujarat and artificial recharge scheme in Karnataka show that determined action produces good results. Chief Minister of Bihar highlighted the decision taken by the State Government to ensure that all Government buildings in the State have a provision for rainwater harvesting.

The Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh urged the Central Government to consider developing acomprehensive drought management plan that can be applicable across States.

The Prime Minister also called upon to undertake foundational reforms in the agri-economy, leading to a complete transformation of the agriculture sector in India. The core agenda items included the need to review the implementation of the APMC Act and possible reform in the form of the Model APMC Act as well as exploring changes in the Essential Commodities Act, to ensure fair remuneration for the farmers, streamlining of supply, driving more investment into the sector and predictability of policy at national and regional levels. The Prime Minister emphasized the need for undertaking structural reforms in agriculture including encouraging corporate investment, strengthening logistics and focusing on food processing.

On Aspirational Districts Programme rapid progress has been achieved across all Aspirational Districts that have participated in this programme in 49 key performance indicators of human and social development. Various Chief Ministers noted the success of the programme in their respective States and also discussed possible challenges and schemes for extension of the programme to rapidly develop blocks in remote and difficult areas so that the spirit of inclusive development is effectively enforced. The Prime Minister commended the district administration teams on implementing several ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas in the Aspirational Districts resulting in significant transformation in many districts such as Khagariya in Bihar, Bokaro in Jharkhand and Mewat in Haryana.

The Prime Minister said that many aspirational districts are affected by Naxal violence. He said the battle against Naxal violence is now in a decisive phase. He said violence will be dealt with firmly, even as development proceeds in a fast-paced and balanced manner.Further reaffirming the commitment of the Government to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE), Hon. Prime Minister assured the Council that the Ministry of Home Affairs will coordinate with all affected States to decisively end LWE, and drive the agenda of development in these regions.

On Left Wing Extremism, Hon. Union Home Minister informed that steadfast implementation of National Policy & Action Plan started in 2015 has resulted in significant success in combating the LWE problem. Centre and States have collaborated for this endeavor.

The geographical area of influence of LWE has shrunk and the number of perpetrators of violence has declined significantly. He further ensured that the Center will continue to provide assistance to the state in order to completely eradicate this issue over next ten years. The Center Government has already started carrying out essential steps in achieving this target by deploying Centre Armed Police Force in a big way to help stated carry out sustainable operations against Maoists.

There has also been an equally strong focus on developing road and telecom infrastructure in these areas. About 11,000 KM of roads are being constructed at the cost of Rs 18000 crore of which 5500 km of road has already been completed. In order to improve telecom connectivity, 2335 mobile towers have also been installed and in next phase, 4072 towers costing 11,000 Crore will be installed.

The Prime Minister noted the progress made by States towards ensuring a TB Free India by 2025. He urged all States to participate in the Ayushman Bharat programme which is benefitting large numbers of underprivileged families. The Prime Minister emphasized that along the lines of Swachh Bharat, we must now make Swasth Bharata Jan Andolan.

The Finance Minister appreciated the positive engagement and cooperation between the Centre and the States in the GST Council. She also highlighted the unprecedented devolution of a large share of funds from the Centre to the States over the last four years.

The Prime Minister in his concluding remark reemphasized on India’s need to prioritise its water challenges and make appropriate interventions to solve them. He said water conservation and irrigation, both require a massive effort, based on public participation.

The Prime Minister announced the creation of a high powered committee on structural reforms in agriculture. He further called upon States to review the progress of Aspirational Districts from time to time and expressed the need of a new model of governance needs to be established in aspirational districts.

The Prime Minister said global circumstances currently offer a unique opportunity to India. He said India is establishing itself on global benchmarks such as Ease of Doing Business. He said we should endeavour to make India a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024, at the earliest. The Prime Minister said that for this purpose, States should aim to increase their economy by 2 to 2.5 times. He said the common man's purchasing power would increase as a result of this.

He called upon Chief Ministers to study the State's export potential, and work on export promotion.

The Prime Minister said that the mining sector can provide significant employment opportunities. He said that bottlenecks in operationalization of mines continue to exist in several States. He said the NITI Aayog is working on these issues.

The Prime Minister thanked the Chief Ministers for their suggestions and reiterated that that the Union Government is keen to partner with the States, and work together for India's development.