The increased budgetary allocations for the agriculture sector in 2016-17 would help in alleviating the prevailing rural distress and trigger growth in the farm sector, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Tuesday.

Addressing reporters, Singh said the Narendra Modi government, ever since it assumed power, has been focussing on reducing the input costs through various initiatives, while trying to boost productivity and maximise the returns through different schemes for the farmers, besides raising the minimum support prices.

Higher allocations

Now, with higher budgetary allocations, the implementation of schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), creation of national agriculture market and organic value chain, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Bima Yojana will gain momentum, he added.

Two years of consecutive drought has aggravated agrarian distress with a decline in farm sector growth impacting foodgrain output and hurting rural incomes.

Focus on irrigation

Singh said PMKSY will be implemented in mission mode and 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation, for which ₹5,717 crore has been earmarked for next financial year.

Expediting implementation of 89 irrigation projects that have been lying incomplete for a long time, will help expand irrigation to 80.6 lakh hectares, he added.

Higher allocation to projects, such as MGNREGA would result in creation of five lakh farm ponds in rain-fed areas.

The Centre, including the States, has spent close to ₹1 lakh crore on various irrigation projects this year, Singh said.

Kisan Kalyan cess

On Monday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave a major thrust to the agriculture sector in the Budget by almost doubling allocation to ₹44,485 crore and raising credit target to a record ₹9 lakh crore.

Also to fund the various agriculture schemes, the government has levied a Kisan Kalyan cess at 0.5 per cent on all taxable services from June.

e-platform for agri

Singh said the launch of unified electronic agri-market on April 14 would also help in ensuring that farmers get better price in the market.

Reforms have been made in the APMC Act in 12 States, excluding Punjab.

The government expects to cover 200 markets by September 2016 and another 200 markets by March 2017 under the National Agriculture Market.

“We are targeting to cover 585 APMCs by March 2018,” he added.