With an aim to double the farmers’ income by 2022, the budget has allotted Rs 35,984 crore for agriculture and farmers’ welfare. “The government intends to go beyond food security and give back a sense of income security to our farmers,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the budget.
The government intends to address issues of optimal utilisation of water resources, create new infrastructure for irrigation, conserve soil fertility with balanced use of fertiliser and provide connectivity from farm to market.
Out of 141 million hectares of net cultivated area only about 65 million hectares are irrigated. In this regard, Arun Jaitley said that Pradhan Mantri Sinchai Yojana will be implemented in a mission mode to bring another 28.5 lakh hectares under irrigation. He said that 89 projects under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) will be fast tracked which will help to irrigate another 80.6 lakh hectare. He promised to complete 23 of these projects before March 31, 2017. These projects require Rs 17,000 crores next year and Rs 86,500 crore in the next five years.
The budget also announced a creation of a dedicated long term irrigation fund in NABARD with an initial corpus of Rs 20,000 crore. A similar programme for sustainable management of ground water resources, with an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crores has been proposed for multilateral funding. Jaitley also said that allocations under MGNREGA will be used for creating atleast 5 lakh farm pond and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits for organic manure production.
To help farmers to make judicious use of fertiliser, FM has set the target for soil health card scheme coverage to 14 crore farm holdings by March 2017. Jaitley said that 2000 model retail outlets of fertiliser companies will be provided with soil and seed testing facilities in the next 3 years. Budget also announced a policy to convert city waste to compose under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Fertiliser companies will co-market these compost.
The Union Finance Minister Shri Jaitley announced ‘Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ for bringing 5 lakh acres of rain fed areas under organic farming. He launched a scheme ‘Organic value chain development in North East Region’ to make their organic produce find domestic and export markets. Number of pulses districts under National Food Security Mission has been increased to 622.
Jaitley announced that a Unified Agricultural Marketing E Platform will be dedicated to the Nation, on the birthday of Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar on April 14, this year. The budget has advanced the completion target of ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana’ from 2021 to 2019, to connect the remaining 65,000 eligible habitations.
Finance Minister announced 3 specific initiatives to ensure MSP reaches to all the farmers. First, the remaining state will be encouraged to take-up decentralised procurement. Second, an online procurement system will be undertaken through the Food Corporation of India. Third, effective arrangements will be made for pulses procurement.
To make dairying more remunerative to the farmers, budget has announced four new initiatives - Pashudhan Sanjivani, an animal wellness programme and provision of Animal Heaalth Cards (Nakul Swasthya Patra); an advanced breeding technology; creation of E-Pashudhan Haat (an e market portal for connecting breeders and farmers) and a national genomic centre for indigenous breeds. These projects will be implemented at a cost of Rs 850 crore over the next few years.
Arun Jaitley has allocated Rs 2.87 lakh crore as grants in aid to gram panchayats and municipalities (228 percent increase compared to previous five years) as per the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission. He said that every block in the areas of drought and rural distress will be taken up under Deen Dayal Antyodaya Mission. These districts would also be taken up for priority under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
The government will develop 300 Rurban clusters under the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission to incubate growth centre in rural areas by providing infrastructure amenities and market access for the farmers. Stating the government is committed to achieve 100 percent village electrification by May 1, 2018, Jaitley proposed to make priority allocation from centrally sponsored scheme, to reward villages that have become free from open defecation.