Budget 2017: Positive approach towards agricultural sector

Rural agricultural

While releasing the Union Budget 2017-2018, Arun Jaitley, Union Finance Minister, has made some positive announcements.

Sagar Kurade, Chairman & Managing Director at Suman Project Consultants Pvt. Ltd. said, “The key theme of this budget seems to be to integrate farmers to agri/food processing unit”

The total allocation for rural, agricultural and allied sectors for 2017-18 is Rs 1,87,223 crore, which is 24 per cent higher than last year’s. According to Shilpa Divekar Nirula, CEO, Monsanto India Region, “The Union Budget 2017 has focused on India’s agriculture sector and the country’s farmers to drive growth in rural India while continuing to propel the nation’s economic engine.”

The cabinet has approved extension of tenure of loans under Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana from 15 to 20 years. The government is also planning to issue soil health cards and set up a mini lab in Krishi Vigyan Kendras. Commenting on the same, Shilpa said, “Credit is an important input to improve agricultural output and productivity and attempts to expand farm credit across rural India is a welcome move. In addition, increased facilities for irrigation through the “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana”, a dedicated irrigation fund, augmented access to crop insurance under the “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana” are admirable interventions aimed at doubling farmer income. Irrigation and farm credit remain key pillars that will strengthen farm productivity, help in managing risks and maintain the uptrend in the agriculture sector’s growth.”

The government is also committed to double farmers’ income in five years along with the target for agriculture credit which is fixed at Rs 10 lakh crore. Dairy processing infrastructure fund will also be set up under National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) with fund of Rs 8,000 crore. NABARD will also set up micro-irrigation fund to achieve the goal of ‘Per Drop More Crop’ whose initial corpus will be Rs 5,000 crore.

Simultaneously, a major programme for sustainable management of ground water resources has been prepared with an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crore and proposed for multilateral funding. Fasal Bima Yojana will be increased to 40 per cent from 30 per cent. Government will set up mini-labs to cater to the needs of farmers.

With an aim of helping farmers to get better value for their produce, model law on contract farming will be circulated among states. At present, farmers are required to sell vegetables and fruits in markets managed by Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs). The central government will urge state governments to remove vegetables and fruits from APMCs and allow farmers to sell such items directly to consumers to get a better price.

Shilpa said, “We look forward to effective implementation of these announcements and remain confident that the government will enable a policy environment which will keep the best interests of India’s farmers in mind.”

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