Budget 2020: Sitharaman’s 16 point formula to boost agriculture, double farmer income; will it help?

Budget 2020-21: Even as the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced 16 measures for the agri sector, it’s to be seen if the steps are sufficient to boost agriculture and farmers’ income.

Budget 2020 India: Expectedly, fiscal deficit of 3.8% of GDP has restricted the the government’s leeway to lower tax rates or announce other large exemptions to spur demand and growth, though these have yet been carried through a few proposals.

Budget 2020 India: Even as the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced 16 measures for the agri sector, it’s to be seen if the steps are sufficient to boost agriculture and farmers’ income. The real income of the farmers should grow at nearly 15 per cent for the coming three years, as against nearly 3 per cent achieved during the five years of the first term of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government, agricultural economist, Ashok Gulati wrote in The Indian Express. Such an increase in the farmers’ income is nearly impossible given the parameters in which farm incomes are determined and the announcements made by Nirmala Sitharaman in budget 2020, Ashok Gulati also said.

Among the various measures, the budget proposed 11 per cent increase in the farm credit target to 15 lakh crore for 2020-21 and announced special rail and flight services for the transportation of farm produce as it seeks to double farmers’ income by 2022. The government also proposed promoting ‘one product one district’ for better marketing and export of horticulture crops. It also called on states for early implementation of three key central model laws on land leasing, agriculture produce and livestock marketing and contract farming. “Our government is committed to the goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022”, Nirmala Sitharaman said. The government also proposed raising the target for disbursing agriculture credit to Rs 15 lakh crore for the 2020-21 fiscal from the current target of Rs 13.5 lakh crore.

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“It looks like a long laundry list of wishes and intentions, which are good, but will they deliver? How much money and effort is being put to each one of these sixteen measures?,” Ashok Gulati added.

On Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), Ashok Gulati said, “best way to promote ZBNF will be to give it a level playing field by reforming the regime of subsidy on chemical fertilizers to direct cash transfer to farmers, and freeing up the prices of chemical fertilizers in line with what the Economic Survey’s chief architect, Krishnamurthy Subramanian, suggests.”

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