Creation of irrigation fund under Nabard, increase in agri-credit target to Rs 9 lakh cr among steps
Aiming to double farmers’ income by 2022, finance minister Arun Jaitely on Monday announced a 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 next fiscal.
Jaitley announced a total allocation of Rs 35, 984 crore for agriculture and farmers’ welfare in the next fiscal. Besides, the finance minister also announced a 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 fertiliser and provide value addition and connectivity from farm to markets,” Jaitely said in his Budget speech.
From an allocation of Rs 5,300 crore for PMKSY in the current fiscal, Jaitely has made a provision of Rs 5,717 crore for 2016-17. This includes allocation for Per Drop More Drop or Development of Micro Irrigation (Rs 2,340 crore), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (R1,500 crore), Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme — AIBP (R1,377 cr) and Har Khet ko Pani (R500 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 R20,000 crore to build irrigation facilities. Besides, the implementation of pending 89 irrigation projects under AIBP, which have been delayed, would be fast-tracked. This would help create irrigation potential of around 8 million hectare.
“These 89 projects required R17,000 crore next year and R86,500 crore in the 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 R12,517 crore has been made through budgetary support and market borrowings in 2016-17.
For ensuring higher agriculture credit flow to farmers, the FM said against the target of R8.5 lakh crore in 2015-16, the target of agricultural credit in 2016-17 will be all-time high of R9 lakh crore. To reduce the burden of loan repayment on farmers, he said a provision of R15,000 crore has been made in the budgetary estimate of 2016-17 towards interest subvention.
“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 social goods and develop infrastructure will revive both the consumer and capital goods industry,” Ajay S Shriram, chairman & sr managing director, DCM Shriram, said.