NEW DELHI: Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh Wednesday said those living in urban areas do not understand the worth of Rs 6,000 -- an annual amount to be given to farmers by the Centre -- as people sometimes spend that amount at one go in a restaurant.
The minister's remarks come against the backdrop of criticism from certain quarters over the Budget announcement that Rs 6,000 each would be given to 12 crore farmers every year under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN).
Opposition parties have criticised the government saying that the amount offered was meagre and insulting to the farming community.
"People living in urban areas spend Rs 6,000 at one go in a restaurant. They don't understand its worth. This amount is important for farmers. Ask anyone in villages, you will get to know," Singh said.
Inaugurating the 14th Agriculture Science Congress at a newly built convention centre here, the minister said the PM-KISAN scheme would give relief to small and marginal farmers.
Hopefully, the urban people would gradually understand what the government is trying to do for this section of the farming community, he said.
The Rs 75,000 crore PM-KISAN scheme, announced in the interim budget of 2019-20, will be officially launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 24 at Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.
Under the scheme, the direct income support of Rs 6,000 will be given in three installments to 12 crore small and marginal farmers having cultivable land up to 2 hectare.
The first installment will be given by March this year.
Singh further said the UPA government had waived crop loan worth Rs 52,000 crore in 10 years, but the current government has allocated an annual budget of Rs 75,000 crore for the PM-KISAN.
Stating that the livelihood security and welfare of farmers is the priority of the government, the agriculture minister said efforts are being made to double farmers income by 2022.
Several measures have been taken to provide cheaper credit to farmers, electronic mandi platform eNAM to realise better returns and focus on allied farm activities like poultry, fishery and animal husbandry to boost additional income, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the government is committed to the upliftment of economically weaker section of the farming community.
The way forward is to transforming agriculture from production centric to income centric, while food security to nutrition security, he said.
Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) Director General Trilochan Mohapatra said the four-day Agriculture Science Congress is a unique platform for the agri-scientific community to deliberate on issues that are bothering the sector.
"It is a platform to review what we have achieved and what we have not done and come out with a strategy for future," he added.
The Agriculture Science Congress is being organised by the National Academy of Agricultural Science (NASS), Indian Council of Agriculture Research(ICAR) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here at Pusa complex.
About 2,000 delegates from 17 countries are expected to attend the event that will end on February 23.