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Agriculture outlay hiked; R&D to be incentivised

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Continuing its focus on agriculture as a priority sector, the Union Budget has enhanced allocations to various schemes in the sector.

The success of spreading the Green Revolution to Eastern India in last few years, prompted the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, to increase outlay for the scheme to Rs 1,000 crore, from Rs 400 crore in last year. Eastern States have reported an additional paddy output of 7 million tonnes last year.

The plan outlay for Agriculture Department has been hiked by 18 per cent to Rs 20,208 crore in 2012-13, while allocation to Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) has seen a 17 per cent increase to Rs 9,217 crore.

INCENTIVISE R&D

Realising the importance of scientific breakthrough in raising farm productivity, the Government has decided to reward research in agriculture. “We have to develop plant and seed varieties that yield more and can resist climate change. I propose to set aside Rs 200 crore for incentivising R&D with rewards, both for institutions and the research team responsible for such scientific breakthroughs,” Mr Mukherjee said.

Further, the Budget also provides for Rs 100 crore to Kerala Agriculture University; Rs 50 crore to University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad; Rs 100 crore to Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University, Hyderabad; Rs 50 crore to Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar, to support research activities.

The Government also plans to launch a Rs 2,242-crore project with World Bank assistance to boost productivity in the dairy sector as part of National Mission for Protein Supplement. Further, a Rs 500-crore allocation has been made to broaden the scope of production of fish to coastal aquaculture, apart from fresh water aquaculture.

DUTY CUTS

The Budget has reduced customs duty from 7.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent on sugarcane planter, root and tuber crop harvesting machine and rotary tiller and weeder. Project import benefit has been extended to greenhouse and protected cultivation at 5 per cent customs duty.

The Budget has also proposed to provide weighted deduction of 150 per cent on expenditure incurred for agri-extension services in order to facilitate growth in the agriculture sector. Besides investment-linked deduction of capital expenditures in cold chain facility and warehouses for storage of food grains has been increase to 150 per cent from the present 100 per cent.

The Government has also decided to merge various schemes of agricultural development to launch five new missions. The National Food Security Mission aims to bridge yield gap in respect of paddy, pulses, millet and fodder. The National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture including Micro Irrigation will now be part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change.

The National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm will focus on boosting productivity of oilseeds and oil palm. The National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology will focus on promoting technology adoption to boost yields. The National Horticulture Mission will promote horticulture diversification including an initiative on saffron.

vishwa@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 16, 2012)
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