In a bid to boost farm production and cut post-harvest losses, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced a slew of measures which included concessional loans to landless growers, a new national scheme to promote irrigation, a separate television channel for farmers.
Delivering his maiden Budget Speech, Jaitley also announced the constitution of a price stabilization fund with an initial allocation of Rs 500 crore and restructuring of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to check food inflation. He also assured to release as much as wheat and rice required in the open market to cool down prices.
He said, two institutions on the pattern of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, will be established in Assam and Jharkhand. Agricultural Universities are proposed to be set up in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, besides two horticulture universities in Telangana and Haryana.
“The Government intends to finance 5 lakh joint farming groups of “Bhoomi Heen Kisan” (landless farmers) through NABARD,” he said. The Government has set a target of Rs. 8 lakh crore for agriculture credit during 2014-15.
The Centre will continue the Interest Subvention Scheme and raise corpus of Rural Infrastructure Development Fund to Rs. 25,000 crores. The Warehouse Infrastructure Fund will get Rs. 5,000 crore this year. The Government also proposes to set up Long Term Rural Credit Fund in NABARD for the purpose of providing refinance support to Cooperative Banks and Regional Rural Banks with an initial corpus of Rs. 5,000 crore.
Towards food security, the Government has committed itself to restructuring FCI, reducing transportation and distribution losses and efficacy of PDS. Wheat and rice will be provided at reasonable prices to weaker sections.
Kisan TV dedicated to interests of agriculture and allied sector will be launched in the current financial year at a sum of Rs. 100 crore.