Budget focusses on creating irrigation infra, higher agri credit flow & soil health card for farmers

arun jetly

Budget focusses on creating irrigation infra, higher agri credit flow & soil health card for farmers

Our bureau
New Delhi, Feb 29:

Aiming at doubling farmers’ income by 2022, finance minister Arjun Jaitely today announced series of measures including higher allocation for Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY), creation of Long Term Irrigation Fund under Nabard, providing soil health cards to 14 crore farmers and increasing the agri-credit target to Rs 9 lakh crore for the financial years (2016 – 17)

Jaitley announced a total  allocation  of Rs 35, 984 crore agriculture  and  farmers’  welfare in the next fiscal. Besides, the finance minister Jaitley also announced an unified agricultural market for bringing in 585 regulated wholesale markets under one e-platform which allows farmers to sell their produce anywhere across the country.

“We   need   to   address   issues   of   optimal   utilisation   of   our   water resources, create new infrastructure for irrigation; conserve soil fertility with balanced  use  of  fertilizer and  provide  value  addition  and  connectivity  from farm to markets,” Jaitely said in his budget speech.

From an allocation of Rs 5300 crore for PMKSY in the current fiscal, Jaitely has made a provision of Rs 5717 crore for 2016 – 17. This includes allocation for — Per Drop More Drop or Development of Micro Irrigation (Rs 2340 crore), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (Rs 1500 crore), Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme – AIBP (Rs 1377) and Har Khet ko Pani (Rs 500 crore).

Stating that irrigation is critical for increasing the agricultural production and productivity, Jaitely said,”PMKSY  has been strengthened and implemented in mission mode,”. He also noted that 2.85 million hectare will be brought under irrigation under this scheme. At present, out  of  141  million  hectares  of  net  cultivated  area  in  the country, only 46% is irrigated.

The finance minister also announced creation of a dedicated long-term irrigation fund under NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore to build irrigation facilities. Besides, the  implementation of pending 89 irrigation projects under AIBP, which have been delayed, would be fas-tracked. This would help create irrigation potential of around 8 million hectare.

“These 89 projects required Rs 17,000 crore next year and Rs 86,500 crore next five years. The government will complete at least 23 of these projects before March 31, 2017,” Jaitely announced. He said that for completing pending irrigation projects a   total   provision   of 12,517 crore   has   been   made   through budgetary support and market borrowings in 2016-17.

Jaitley said the government has provided a path breaking crop insurance scheme ‘Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana’, for which Rs 5,500 crore has been allocated for next fiscal.

For ensuring higher agriculture credit flow to farmers,  Jaitley said against the target of Rs 8.5 lakh crore in 2015-16, the target of agricultural credit in 2016-17 will be all-time high of Rs 9 lakh crore.” To reduce the burden of loan repayment on farmers, he said a provision of Rs 15,000 crore has been made in the budgetary estimate of 2016-17 towards interest subvention.

Jaitley also noted that a major programme for sustainable management of ground water resource has been prepared with an estimated cost of Rs 60,000 crore and proposed multi-lateral funding. He said at least 5 lakh farm ponds, dug wells in rainfed areas and 10 lakh compost production of organic manure would be created using funds under MGNREGA.

“The budget clearly aims at greater investment in the agriculture and allied sectors and will give a much needed impetus to the farming sector. Overall, the steps outlined to boost rural economy, deliver socials goods and develop infrastructure will revive both the consumer and capital goods industry,” Ajay S Shriram, Chairman & Sr Managing Director, DCM Shriram said.

“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 while unveiling Budget 2016-17 in Lok Sabha.