While maintaining that the Modi government would further strengthen the MSP system, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that her government would increase the agriculture credit target to Rs 16.5 lakh crore.

The Finance minister said the government is ready for talks with the protesting farmers on the three farm laws as discussion is the only way forward.

“We can understand why farmers are sitting at the border. If any farmer has any question, Agriculture Minister (Narendra Singh Tomar) has never denied opportunities for talk,” Sitharaman said in reply to a query during her post Budget briefing.

Announcing a series of benefits to the Agriculture sector, she said Union Government was committed to the welfare of farmers.

“The MSP Regime has undergone a change to assure price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities,” she said in her Budget speech.

She claimed that procurement of wheat and paddy has increased manifolds during the past six years and more than 43.36 lakh farmers were benefited from these schemes.

Ignoring the disruption made by the opposition benches, the Finance Minister said, “The procurement has continued to increase at a steady pace. This has resulted in an increase in payment to farmers substantially,” she said.

Giving details of the procurement, the Minister said the total amount paid to farmers in 2013-14 was Rs 33,874 crore for wheat procurement which has increased to Rs 62,802 crore in 2019-20. This year it was over Rs 75,000 crore, she added.

The number of wheat growing farmers that were benefited has been increased to 43.36 lakh as compared to 35.57 lakh in 2019-20.

Similarly, for paddy the amount paid in 2013-14 was Rs 63,928 crore, which has been increased to 1,41,930 crore. And this year this is further estimated to increase to Rs 1,72,752 crore, the Minister said.

She also proposed nine measures for Agriculture and Allied Sectors, as part of inclusive development including 33 % increase in Rural Infrastructure Development fund~ from existing Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore, and doubling Micro Irrigation fund from Rs 5,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore.