Nabard has hailed the increased focus on irrigation and dairy sectors in the Budget which has hiked the corpus of long term irrigation fund by another Rs 20,000 crore, taking the total fund size to Rs 40,000 crore. “The Budget focuses a lot on the rural and agriculture sector. Though the thrust on digital continues, reforms announced in the Budget will generate employment and help in doubling farmers income,” chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwala told PTI.
The FM also announced a dedicated micro irrigation fund which will be set up in Nabard to achieve the goal, ‘per drop more crop’, with an initial corpus of Rs 5,000 crore.
“Through these two measures, we increase the area under irrigation and improve the efficiency of irrigation. Improving irrigation efficiency is critical for agriculture since we have only 2.4 per cent of the world’s total geographical area an 18 per cent of the world’s population, but only 4 per cent of the world’s total fresh water resources,” he said.
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The minister announced setting up of a dairy processing and infrastructure development fund at Nabard with a corpus of Rs 8,000 crore over three years. The fund will start with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore.
“Nabard has always been opining that development of dairy is critical to bringing sustainability to agriculture. There are millions of examples where farmers have shown their ability to manage inclement weather and market vagaries by investing in dairy as an alternate mode of income,” he said.
The dairy cooperative network includes 254 cooperative milk processing units, 177 milk unions covering 346 districts and over 1,55,634 village-level societies.
About 15.1 million farmers have been brought under the ambit of village level dairy corporative societies up to March 2013. Still, about 80 per cent of this milk is being collected and distributed by unorganised sector in the form of ‘doodhiyas’, local sweet shops.
“The allocation for dairy development will allow Nabard to finance modernisation of milk processing units, encourage new bulk-milk cooling units, improve milk production and increasing modernisation of breeding facilities,” he said.
The budget said the government will support Nabard for computerisation and integration of all 63,000 functional primary agriculture credit societies (PACS) with the core banking system of district central cooperative banks. This will be done in three years at an estimated cost of Rs 1,900 crore, with financial participation from state governments.
“A majority of the PACS are not on the digital platform. Computerisation of PACS will bring in more transparency in their working,” he said.