The government on Wednesday unveiled a series of measures to enhance and promote agricultural credit, digital technologies, natural farming and funding for agricultural start-ups in the rural areas.
The highlight of the proposals was an 11% hike in agriculture credit target to `20 trillion for the next fiscal with focus on animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries. This is aimed at providing higher farm loans at subsidised rates to those engaged in the livestock sector.
The other big ticket announcement includes a new sub-scheme Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana with an investment of `6,000 crore to improve the fisheries value chain. Customs duty on key inputs for domestic manufacturing of shrimp feed will also be reduced to promote export of marine products.
Allocation for the department of agriculture and farmers welfare for the next fiscal has declined by 7% to `1.15 trillion from the previous year’s Budget estimate. However, the allocation is 5% more than the revised estimate of `1.1 trillion for 2022-23.
The Budget has made a provision of `60,000 crore for next fiscal for implementation of PM Kisan – this is 13% less than the `68,000 crore budgeted in 2022-23. However, it is at the same level as the revised budget for the current year.
Allocation for agricultural research and education for the next fiscal has been hiked by 11.6% to `9,509 crore from the Budget estimate of 2022-23.
“The Agriculture Accelerator Fund will bring in modern technologies to transform agricultural practices, increase productivity and profitability,” KC Ravi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Syngenta India, said.
The Budget has made a special provision of `5,300 crore for the drought prone central region of poll-bound Karnataka which would provide sustainable micro irrigation and drinking water.
The Budget aims at enhancing productivity of extra-long stable (ELS) cotton through a public private partnership (PPP) model using cluster-based approach. “Increase in output of ELS cotton would increase manufacturing of valued added garments and reduce import dependence of the variety of cotton,” KM Subramanian, President, Tiruppur Exporters’ Association said.
To boost millet economy and make India a global hub for ‘Shree Anna’, the Budget announced that the Indian Institute of Millets Research, a Hyderabad-based institute affiliated to Indian Council for Agricultural Research, would be developed as ‘Centre for excellence’.
Through setting up of the Bhartiya Prakritik Kheti Bio-Input Resource Centres, over the next three years, 10 million farmers would adopt natural farming.
The government will launch the PM Programme for restoration, awareness, nourishment and amelioration of mother earth (PM Pranam) to incentivise states and Union Territories to promote alternative fertilisers and balanced use of chemical fertilisers.