Seeking to double farmers’ income by 2022, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 58,663 crore to agriculture and allied sector for 2017-18 and increased the farm credit target to Rs 10 lakh crore in the fiscal.
Of the allocation, which is around 10 per cent higher than Rs 52,821 crore (revised estimates) in the last fiscal, the allocation for the Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Ministry was increased by around six per cent as it got Rs 51,026 crore as opposed to Rs 48,072 crore (RE) in 2016-17.
Presenting the budget, Jaitley said that agriculture was expected to grow at 4.1 per cent in the current fiscal due to better monsoon and the total area sown under Kharif and Rabi crops are higher than the previous year.
He said coverage of National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) will be expanded from the current 250 markets to 585 APMCs (Agriculture Produce Market Committees), while assistance up to a ceiling of Rs 75 lakhs will be provided to every e-NAM market to set up cleaning, grading and packaging facilities.
Urging states to de-notify perishables from APMC as it would give opportunity to farmers to sell their produce and get better prices, he said that there was a proposal to integrate farmers who grow fruits and vegetables with agro processing units for better price realisation and reduction of post-harvest losses.
“A model law on contract farming would therefore be prepared and circulated among the states for adoption,” he said.
He said that the government was committed to double the farmers’ income in five years thus adequate credit would be made available to the farmers in time.
“The target for agricultural credit in 2017-18 has been fixed at a record level of Rs 10 lakh crore. Special efforts would be taken to ensure adequate flow of credit to the under serviced areas, the eastern states and Jammu & Kashmir,” he said.
The farmers will also benefit from 60 days interest waiver announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for loans from cooperative credit structure.
Noting that dairy is an important source of additional income for the farmers, Jaitley announced that a Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund would be set-up in NABARD with a corpus of Rs 8,000 crore over three years.
He said a Long Term Irrigation Fund has already been set-up in National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and the Prime Minister has announced an addition of Rs 20,000 crore to its corpus, which will now become Rs 40,000 crore.
Jaitley said that at the time of sowing, farmers should feel secure against natural calamities and the Fasal Bima Yojana (Crop Insurance Scheme) was a major step in this direction. Its coverage has been increased from 30 per cent of cropped area in 2016-17 to 40 per cent in 2017-18 and 50 per cent in 2018-19, he added.
“We will take more steps and enable the farmers to increase their production and productivity and to deal with post-harvest challenges,” he said.
Jaitley added that issuance of soil health card have gained momentum across the country and to boost it, new mini labs would be set up in Krishi Vigyan Kendras across the country.