Budget 2018: FM Arun Jaitley announces agricultural reforms to double farmers income by 2022

Union Budget 2018: In Union Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government had always been keen to enhance their commitment to the welfare of farmers, and achieving the goal of doubling farmer income by the year 2022, by the 75th year of Indian Independence

Malda: A farmer at a dry paddy field at Gour in Malda district of West Bengal on Sunday. PTI Photo (PTI6_14_2015_000120A)

Union Budget 2018: In Union Budget 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government had always been keen to enhance its commitment to the welfare of farmers, and achieving the goal of doubling farmer income by the year 2022, by the 75th year of Indian Independence. The Finance Minister observed that the policy in the previous decade remained production centric. The Finance minister announced various measures to  generate higher income, produce more from same land, and realise higher price, and measures centered around farm and non-farm income. Most notably, Arun Jaitley said that he wants farmers to earn 1.5 times the cost of their produce. “Government considers agriculture as an enterprise,” Arun Jaitley said. 

Finance Minister also said that MSP for kharif crops will be at at 1.5 times cost of produce. “Goverment will work with NITI aayog to develop system of optimum farm, price realisation. Further, he announced starting up with an agricultural market fund with corpus of Rs 2,200 crore.

Arun Jaitley also proposed hiking the agricultural credit target for the next fiscal by Rs 1 lakh crore to a whopping Rs 11 lakh crore. Previously, the target was Rs 8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15 and has been gradually increasing under the NDA government. “The government will set up fisheries and aqua culture infra fund and animal husbandry infra fund with an outlay of Rs 10,000 crore,” Arun Jaitley said that adding that 470 mandis (wholesale market) have been electronically linked under e-NAM (National Agriculture Market) programme out of 585 mandis. The remaining will be linked by March 2018, he said.

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The economic survey 2018, tabled in parliament on Monday noted that the government is keen to double the income of the farmers by 2022, for which it has launched several new initiatives. The survey, which estimated that agriculture sector will grow at 2.1 percent in 2017-18, said that credit from institutional sources will complement all such government initiatives. Notably, the space employs  more than 50 per cent of the total workforce in India and contributes around 17-18 percent to the country’s GDP.

Interestingly, it was predicted that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would lay specific emphasis on the increasing role of women in Indian agriculture, as the economic survey says that with growing rural to urban migration by men, there is ‘feminisation of agriculture sector’, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers.

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Taking note of the condition of farmers in India, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said, “At present, Indian farmers are adapting farm mechanization at a faster rate in comparison to recent past. Although, the sale of tractors in India cannot be taken as the only measure of farm mechanization but to a great extent it reflects the level of mechanization.”

The economic survey also noted that Agricultural R&D is the main source of innovation, which is needed to sustain agricultural productivity growth in the long-term. The actual expenditure of Department of Agricultural Research and Education/Indian Council of Agricultural Research has increased from Rs 5,393 crore in 2010-11 to Rs.6800 (BE) crore during 2017-18. The compound annual growth rate of expenditure has been 4.2% over the years and in recent years‘ expenditure has been on higher side.

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