This would also ensure states’ involvement in framing programmes and schemes for agricultural development is in tune with their needs.
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Compared to the 2014-15 Budget Estimate (BE), the allocation for 2015-16 is Rs 5,648 crore less.
A big chunk of the agriculture ministry’s annual allocation is spent on its flagship Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, whose allocation for 2015-16 has been slashed by almost half to Rs 4,500 crore as against the 2014-15 revised estimate (RE) of Rs 8,444 crore. The rest will be contributed by the states, as the scheme from April 1 onwards will form part of those programmes whose funds will be shared between Centre and states.
The National Food Security Mission, another major programme under which the government planned to raise output of pulses, oilseeds, wheat and rice by 2015, has been lowered by Rs 530 crore in 2015-16 as against the RE of 2014-15. The allocation is also Rs 630 crore less than the BE for 2014-15.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchaee Yojana, however, saw a huge jump from the RE of Rs 30 crore to almost Rs 1,800 crore in the 2015-16 BE. Another Rs 3,500 crore has been allocated for other irrigation projects.
“The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sinchaee Yojana is aimed at irrigating the field of every farmer and improving water-use efficiency. I am allocating Rs 5,300 crore to support micro irrigation, watershed development and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchaee Yojana. I urge the states to chip in substantially in this vital sector,” Jaitley said while presenting the Budget.
“Farm credit underpins the efforts of our hard-working farmers. I have, therefore, set up an ambitious target, which, I am sure, the banks will surpass,” the minister said.
He also allocated Rs 25,000 crore in 2015-16 to the corpus of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF) with Nabard; Rs 15,000 crore for the Long Term Rural Credit Fund; Rs 45,000 crore for Short Term Cooperative Rural Credit Refinance Fund; and Rs 15,000 crore for the Short Term Regional Rural Banks Refinance Fund.
“The funds are meant to support the agriculture sector, with the help of effective and hassle-free agriculture credit, with a special focus on small and marginal farmers,” Jaitley said.