Former prime minister and JDS leader H D Devegowda on Monday raised his concerns over the "decline" in the overall allocation for agriculture in the Budget and said it has disappointed those expecting an increase in the outlay for the sector.
"The allocation (for agriculture) out of the total Budget for FY 2022-23 has declined by 3.8 per cent," Devegowda said and alleged that an appeal to remove GST from all farm inputs was left unheard.
The subsidy on food and petroleum products was decreased which would impact the cost of cultivation and cost inputs, he said, adding the budget allocation for agriculture and allied sectors has disappointed all those who were expecting an increased outlay.
"The budget allocated for MSP (minimum support price) has been reduced instead of increasing it to cover a large number of crops." This will adversely impact the food production and income of the farmers, the former prime minister told the Rajya Sabha.
Over promoting natural and organic farming, Devegowda said it needs to be thoroughly debated to meet the demand of the growing population of the country.
He questioned the government's schemes in the budget such as the use of drones in agriculture for chemical spraying and said it was "totally inappropriate" as 82 per cent of farmers are marginal and small with an average landholding of 1.08 hectares.
"It can be most used to collect data on crop surveys for planning a profitable marketing of farm products," he said adding chemical spraying using drones is also antithetical to organic farming.
Devegowda, however, welcomed the government's move to declare 2022-23 as 'International Year of Millets' terming it the "prime attraction" of the budget. He said the outlay for MANREGA was not sufficient to solve the problems in rural areas and this should be increased. He also raised concerns over rising unemployment in the country.
The Indian economy is agrarian in nature with over 50 per cent of the people engaged in the sector contributing nearly 17 per cent of the GDP, the octogenarian leader said. "If the country has to progress economically, it can only happen with the government giving priority and support to the agriculture sector," he said.
"Despite all odds, such as climate change, drought, floods and declining water level, our farmers have produced 305 million tonnes of food grains and 320 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables." In FY21 the country was not only self-sufficient in food production but also exported food, Devegowda said.
Participating in the debate, Sanjay Singh of the AAP claimed that the government has put several points in the President's address, which are "unrealistic".
"When there is Presidential speech, you (government) add topics such as 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat', 'sabka saath sabka vikas' and 'Amrit Mahotsav', while on the ground you act contrary to it," he said.
Singh said the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi was insulted recently in Uttarakhand. Similar incidents happened in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Such people should be put behind bars as there are "anti-national" acts., the AAP leader said.
"Gandhi is insulted in 75th year of Independence and the government is mum. No one even discusses it," he said, alleging the ruling BJP has come from the ideology which glorifies Nathuram Godse.
"The Presidential speech talks about 'Shreshtha Bharat' but the home minister of this country gives a statement at Muzzfarnagar saying 'dange yaad hai na' (do you remember communal riots)," Singh alleged.
With inputs from PTI.