An increased investment in irrigation is essential to double farm income and NABARD has a big role to play by disbursing funds and helping farmers increase productivity, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.
He said NABARD has envisaged providing Rs 80,000 crore for irrigation funding of which about Rs 19,700 crore will come in the current fiscal.
“Investment in agriculture is necessary both for social and economic reasons. If we have to double farm income then we have to increase agriculture output and for that irrigation is a necessity as we cannot depend on monsoon alone,” Jaitley said.
Of the Rs 19,700 crore to be given by NABARD in the current fiscal, Rs 1,500 crore was today disbursed to National Water Development Agency which is under the administrative control of Ministry of Water Resources.
Jaitley said he expects the money to be utilised on a fast track basis to achieve the target of doubling farm incomes by 2022.
“Historically, states in which agriculture sector output has grown 8 per cent annually, the respective governments are re-elected. So it is a necessity that agriculture output is increased,” he said.
In his 2016-17 Budget, Jaitley had said that a dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund will be created in NABARD with an initial corpus of about Rs 20,000 crore.
As per the government, implementation of 89 irrigation projects under Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) has been languishing.
Fast tracking it will help irrigate 80.6 lakh hectares. These projects require Rs 86,500 crore over five years. “We will ensure that 23 of these projects are completed before March 31, 2017,” Jaitley had said in Budget speech.
Speaking on the occasion, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said this is the first time that NABARD is releasing funds for funding irrigation.
“We have to ensure that farmers have access to water to boost agriculture,” Bharti said, adding that the languishing projects are expected to be completed by December 2018.