Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Monday said sowing operations during the demonetisation period increased by seven per cent as compared to the year-ago period.
"During November 8 to December 30, 2016, sowing operations increased by about 7 per cent. This data was sent by the states," Singh said while responding to a query that state governments, including West Bengal, claimed that the note-ban hit the farmers and sowing during Rabi season was affected.
"Purchasing of seeds with scrapped notes was allowed during the demonetisation period," he said on the sidelines of the Indian Seed Congress 2017 here.
Inaugurating the Congress, Singh said the central government was committed to providing income security of farmers to double their income in 5 years.
For the post-harvest phase, the Centre has been taking steps to enable farmers to get better prices for their produce in the markets. "The coverage of National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) will be expanded from the current 250 markets to 585 APMCs," he said.
The minister said the central government has set a target to cover 14 crore farmers under the Soil Health Card Scheme which would enables farmers to get information about nutrient level of the soil and could help to make make judicious use of fertilisers.
Singh also urged the West Bengal government's official to speed up the process of providing the soil health card as the state covered 16 lakh farmers under the scheme but it was supposed to cover 72 lakh farmers by March 2017.
West Bengal Food Processing and Horticulture Minister Abdur Razzak Molla also urged the Centre to formulate a vegetables' seed certification process in order to clear confusion among farmers.
In reply, Singh said states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have started the process by setting up Seed Certification Authority.
Molla appealed to the seed producing companies to explore the western zone of West Bengal to set up their plants, claiming that districts like Bankura, West Midnapore and Purulia are suitable for seed production.