Budget 2019

Big target: Doubling farm incomes by 2022

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 01, 2016

__Agriculture

Budget rolls out new schemes; turns focus on irrigation and market access to farmers

Amidst rising rural distress induced by two successive droughts, the Narendra Modi government stepped up its focus on the farm sector with higher allocation and announced intent to re-orient its interventions to double the farmers’ incomes by 2022.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made an allocation of ₹35,984 crore for agriculture and farmers welfare, and raised the farm credit target to a record high of ₹9 lakh crore for 2016-17. The farm sector-focussed announcements assume significance ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections in five States.

Slew of allocations

To fund a slew of new initiatives in the farm sector, it has been proposed to impose the Krishi Kalyan Cess of 0.5 per cent on all taxable services, besidesa duty cut on components used in irrigation pumps and micronutrients.

“We are grateful to our farmers for being the backbone of the country’s food security. We need to think beyond food security and give back to our farmers a sense of income security,” Jaitley said. Other major allocations include ₹15,000 crore for interest subvention on agriculture credit, ₹5,500 crore for implementing the new crop insurance scheme – Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – and ₹900 crore for creating a price stabilisation fund for pulses.

Jaitley said his government intends to address the issues of optimal utilisation of water resources, augment irrigation infrastructure and enhancing the market access to the farmers. Besides announcing 100 per cent foreign direct investment in the marketing of food products manufactured in the country, he said the unified agriculture marketing scheme that envisages a common e-market platform will be launched on April 14, and soil health cards will be provided to all 14 crore farm holdings by March 31, 2017.

“This is the first such Budget in India that has really cared for the poor people, farmers and those who live in the villages. A lot of money has been provided to the agriculture and rural development sector,” Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told reporters after the Budget. A dedicated long-term irrigation fund will be created in Nabard with an initial corpus of ₹20,000 crore to build irrigation facilities.

Irrigation projects

Stating that irrigation was critical in increasing agriculture productivity, Jaitley said the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana has been strengthened and implemented in mission mode.

About 28.5 lakh hectares will be irrigated under this scheme.

Further, Jaitley also said that 89 irrigation projects that have been languishing, will be fast tracked that will help irrigate 80.6 lakh hectares. “These projects require ₹17,000 crore next year and ₹86,500 crore in the next five years. We will ensure that 23 of these projects are completed before March 31, 2017,” Jaitley said.

On the foodgrain and pulses procurement, Jaitley announced three new initiatives, including the start of online procurement by the Food Corporation of India.

“This will usher in transparency and convenience to the farmers through prior registration and monitoring of actual procurement,” Jaitley said. States will be encouraged to take up decentralised procurement.

Organic farming

The Budget also made a provision of ₹412 crore for promoting organic farming in the rain-fed areas, which account for nearly 55 per cent of the country’s arable land. The ‘Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ will bring 5 lakh acres under organic farming over a three-year period.

Also, a value chain-based organic farming scheme called ‘Organic Value Chain Development in North East Region’ will focus on the value-addition so that organic produce grown in these parts find domestic and export markets.

Published on March 01, 2016
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