This exchange with all the farmer colleagues raises a new hope and creates a new confidence. As our Minister, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar ji, was saying now that today is Bhagwan Basaveswara Jayanti and Parshuram Jayanti also. Today is also the auspicious festival of Akshaya Tritiya. I also wish the countrymen Happy Eid.
With the wish that the morale of all the countrymen remains high in times of Corona and their resolve is further strengthened to defeat this pandemic, I would like to take forward the discussion that I had with all the farmer brothers. Present in this programme Minister of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar ji, my other colleagues in the Union Cabinet, all chief ministers, hon’ble ministers of state governments, MPs, MLAs and my farmer brothers and sisters from all over the country,
Today, we are holding this discussion in a very challenging time. Even during this period of Corona, the farmers of the country, while discharging their responsibility in the agriculture sector, have produced record food grains and are experimenting new methods in agriculture. Another instalment of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi is going to support your efforts. Today is the auspicious festival of Akshaya Tritiya, the beginning of the new cycle of agriculture, and today about 19,000 crore rupees have been transferred directly to the bank accounts of farmers. It will benefit about 10 crore farmers. The farmers of Bengal are going to get the benefit of this facility for the first time. Today, lakhs of farmers of Bengal have received their first instalment. As the names of farmers from the State are forwarded to the Central Government, the number of beneficiary farmers will increase further.
The PM Kisan Samman Nidhi is benefiting small and marginal farmers more in particular. This amount is proving to be of great use to these farmer families in these trying circumstances. So far, about 1,35,000 crore rupees have reached about 11 crore farmers of the country under this scheme. That is, more than 1,25,000 crore rupees directly into the accounts of the farmers and without any middleman. Out of this, more than 60,000 crore rupees have been transferred to the farmers’ accounts in the Corona period alone. It is the government's constant endeavour to extend help directly and quickly and with complete transparency to those who need it the most.
Brothers and sisters,
Providing rapid and direct benefits to the farmers in government procurement of produce is also being done on a very comprehensive scale. While farmers have made record productions in agriculture and horticulture amid the challenges of Corona, the Government is also setting new procurement records on MSP every year. Record purchases of paddy earlier and now wheat are happening. So far, about 10 per cent more wheat has been procured at MSP this year as compared to the previous year. So far, about 58,000 crore rupees of wheat procurement has reached the farmers' accounts directly. Above all, the farmers don’t have to worry and wait long for their money for the produce being sold in mandis now. The money which rightfully belongs to the farmers is being directly credited to their bank accounts. I am satisfied that lakhs of farmers of Punjab and Haryana have become part of this direct transfer facility for the first time. So far, about 18,000 crore rupees have been credited to the bank accounts of farmers of Punjab and 9,000 crore rupees directly into the bank accounts of farmers of Haryana. The farmers of Punjab and Haryana are also experiencing and speaking vocally about the satisfaction of getting their entire money directly into their bank accounts. I have seen several videos on social media where farmers, particularly from Punjab, are speaking with enthusiasm regarding the direct transfer of the entire money into their bank accounts.
The Government is constantly making efforts to provide new solutions and options in farming. Promoting organic farming is one such effort. Such crops also have low costs, are beneficial for soil and human health and also command better prices. A short while ago, I had a discussion with some farmers across the country engaged in this kind of farming. I am very excited to know about their spirit and experiences. Now organic farming is being encouraged extensively within a radius of about 5 kilometres on both sides of the Ganga so that the chemical used in the field does not flow into the Ganga during rains and the river is not polluted. These organic products being made available in the market are branded Namami Gange. Similarly, the natural farming system is also being encouraged on a large scale. At the same time, the Government is making efforts to provide cheap and easy bank loans to small and marginal farmers. For this, a special drive has been launched for the last one-and-a-half years for providing Kisan Credit Cards. More than 2 crore Kisan Credit Cards have been issued during this period. Farmers have taken loans worth more than 2 lakh crore rupees on these cards. Farmers associated with animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries have also started getting a huge benefit. Recently, the Government has taken another important decision and my farmer brothers and sisters would be happy with the government's decision as it will be very beneficial to them. In view of the Corona period, the Government has decided to extend the deadline for payment or renewal of KCC loans. All farmers can now renew their outstanding loans by June 30. Even during this extended period, the farmers will continue to get the benefit of the loans at 4 per cent interest.
The contribution of the villages and farmers has been immense in India's fight against Corona. It is the result of your efforts that India is running the world's largest free ration scheme during the Corona period. Free ration was given to the poor for eight months last year under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana. Provisions have been made to ensure free ration to more than 80 crore colleagues in the months of May and June. The government is spending 26,000 crore rupees in this regard. I would urge the state governments to ensure that the poor do not have any problem in getting the free ration.
After 100 years, such a deadly epidemic is testing the world at every step. There is an invisible enemy in front of us. And this enemy is imposter also and due to which we have lost many of our close ones. The pain that the countrymen have endured for some time now, the pain that many people have gone through, I feel the same pain. Being your ‘Pradhan Sevak’, I share your sentiment. All the bottlenecks during the second wave of Corona are being addressed. Efforts are being made on a war footing. You must have seen that all the departments of the Government, all the resources, the security forces of our country, our scientists, everyone is united in meeting the challenge of COVID. COVID hospitals are being set up rapidly in different parts of the country and oxygen plants are being set up with new technology. All our three forces -- Air Force, Navy and Army -- are engaged in this work with full force. Oxygen rails have been a big boost in this fight against Corona. These special trains are engaged in delivering oxygen to the remote parts of the country. Truck drivers carrying oxygen tankers are working non-stop. Be it doctors, nursing staff, sanitation workers, lab technicians, ambulance drivers, sample collectors – all are working 24 hours to save every individual. Efforts are on a war footing to augment the supply of essential medicines in the country. The government and the pharma sector of the country have augmented the production of essential medicines manifold in the last few days. Medicines are also being imported. In times of crisis, some people are engaged in hoarding and black marketing of medicines and essential commodities due to their vested interests. I would urge the state governments to take the strongest possible action against such people. This is an act against humanity. India is not a country that loses courage. Neither India nor any Indian will lose courage. We will fight and win.
Through this event, I want all the farmers and brothers and sisters living in villages to remain alert against Corona. This pandemic is spreading fast in rural villages. Every government is taking efforts to meet with this challenge. Awareness about this among rural people and cooperation of the panchayat institutes are equally important. You have never disappointed the nation and this is also expected of you this time. All the necessary steps at personal, family and social levels need to be taken to prevent Corona. It is very necessary to wear masks continuously and in a way so that the nose and face are completely covered. Secondly, do not take symptoms like cough, cold, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea lightly. First you have to isolate yourself and then get the Corona test done quickly. Start the medication as advised by doctors till the report comes.
Vaccination is the best defence against Corona. The Central and state governments are doing their best to increase vaccination. About 18 crore vaccine doses have been given in the country. Free vaccination is on in government hospitals across the country. Therefore, get yourself vaccinated when your turn comes. This will give us protection and reduce the risk of serious illness. And yes, wearing of masks and distance of two yards has to be maintained even after vaccination. Once again, I extend my best wishes to all my farmer friends.