Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has thanked the Prime Minister and Finance Minister for giving a very high priority to agriculture in the union budget. He has said that the budget puts into action the Prime Minister’s commitment and vision to make villages and farmers strong through schemes for agricultural growth, irrigation and connectivity. Till now, agriculture used to be on the sidelines in union budgets but this is the first time that agriculture has been given pride of place in the budget, the Minister said.
Singh specially mentioned the commitment shown in the budget to usher in technology-driven second green revolution with focus on higher productivity and protein revolution. Another major area in focus would be promoting organic farming in the north-eastern region of the country where there is immense potential for this. The provision of soil health card to all farmers is a path-breaking initiative and it will help farmers reap better harvests with lesser investment on inputs, Singh said.
Proposals in Brief
- In short, the proposals in the budget that directly relate to farming and farmers are:
- A scheme will be launched to provide a soil health card to every farmer.
- 100 new mobile soil testing laboratories will be set up across the country.
- Rs. 100 crore have been provided to harness the vast potential of organic farming in the north-eastern region of the country.
- Agriculture Universities will be established in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- Horticulture Universities will be set up in Telangana and Haryana.
- Institutes of excellence will be set up in Assam and Jharkhand.
- An Agri-tech Infrastructure Fund is being established.
- A National Adaptation Fund is being established to meet the threat of climate change on agriculture.
- Budget commits 4% growth in agriculture. It seeks to usher in a technology-driven second green revolution with focus on higher productivity and ‘protein revolution’ as areas of major focus.
- 5 lakh farming groups of landless farmers (Bhoomiheen Kisan) will be formed through NABARD to get them institutional finance.
- Price Stabilisation Fund is being set up to mitigate uncertainties and hardship due to volatility in prices of farm produce.
- Centre will work closely with states to re-orient APMC acts to help develop farmers’ markets and other marketing reforms.
- Funds have been made available in the budget for development of indigenous cattle breed and starting blue revolution in inland fisheries.
- Flow of credit to agriculture sector is to be increased; credit target raised to Rs. 8 lakh crore this year.
- Farmers making timely payment of crop loans will continue getting loan at 4% rate of interest.
- More funds are made available to NABARD to help creation of rural infrastructure through Rural Infrastructure Development Fund.
- Rs 5000 crore are being provided to create warehousing infrastructure.
- Another Rs. 5000 crore have been provided for creating Long Term Rural Credit Fund; it will long-term investment into agriculture.
- Cooperatives are being provided Rs 50,000 crore through refinance; it will help more credit flow to farmers through cooperatives.
- 2000 producer organizations will be set up across the country in the next two years under Producers Development and Upliftment Corpus (PRODUCE).
- Kisan TV, a television channel dedicated to farmers and agriculture, will be launched.
- Excise duty on food processing and packaging machinery has been reduced.
- Service tax on loading, unloading etc of cotton has been removed.
- A Rs. 1000 crore scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, is to be launched to improve access to irrigation.
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