Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Tuesday said the government would promote the usage of “Kisan drones” to assess crops, digitise land records and spray insecticides and nutrients.

While presenting the Union Budget for the year 2022-23, Sitharaman listed several measures to support the agriculture sector.

The finance minister said that “chemical-free farming” would be promoted in the country. The focus will be on farming land within 5-km-wide corridors along with the River Ganga in the first stage, she said.

Sitharaman said that government would facilitate a fund with blended capital raised under the co-investment model through India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, or NABARD.

“This is to finance start-ups for agriculture and rural enterprises relevant to the farm produce value chain,” Sitharaman said.

The finance minister announced that the government’s procurement of wheat and paddy at the minimum support price (MSP) during 2021-22 will cover 1,208 lakh tonnes from 163 lakh farmers.

A direct payment of MSP value up to Rs 2.37 lakh crore would be made to the farmers, Sitharaman said in her Budget speech.

“States will be encouraged to revise syllabi of agricultural universities to meet the needs of natural, zero-budget and organic farming, modern-day agriculture, value addition and management,” the finance minister announced.

General Secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, Yudhvir Singh, however, alleged that the Centre paid little attention to farmers in the Budget.

“Agriculture employs more than half the working population in the country,” Singh told NDTV. “And yet the Centre did not deliver on its promises to farmers including that of doubling farmers’ incomes.”

Leaders of the Opposition parties also criticised the Union Budget, saying that the problems raised by farmers were not considered by the Modi government.

Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja said the Budget turned out to be a “bag of disasters and deceptions”.

Raja said on Twitter that the overall allocation for agriculture and allied activities reduced from 4.26% to 3.84%. “That’s how the Modi government intends to double farmers’ income?” he asked.