Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has brought the development of agriculture sector up on the government's priority list by almost doubling the spending in the current financial year.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has brought the development of agriculture sector up on the government’s priority list by almost doubling the spending in the current financial year. The Finance Minister said in her speech in Lok Sabha this week that the Budget reflects the government’s commitment to investment in the agriculture sector. In 2018-19, revised estimates for the expenditure of the agriculture ministry stood at Rs 67,800 crore, which has now been increased by 92.4% to Rs 1,30,485 crore in the budget estimates of 2019-20.
The surge in expenditure has been primarily driven up by increase in allocation to Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) scheme. Allocation to this scheme has shot up by 275% from Rs 20,000 crore in FY19 to Rs 75,000 crore in FY20. This is because in the last fiscal year, the government could disburse only one installment out of the planned three. The scheme aims to supplement the financial needs of the farmers in procuring various inputs to ensure proper crop health and appropriate yield, which can eventually boost the farm income.
The agriculture sector has taken a hit in the past year. According to a recent MOSPI report, GVA growth rate in the sector remained at 2.9% in 2018-19, falling from 5% in 2017-18. At constant prices, the agriculture sector’s GVA fell 0.1% in Q4 FY19. Also, the year 2018-19 saw a series of protests from the farmers. Nearly 300 farmers from Tamil Nadu marched at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar asking for debt relief and better prices of their produce. Especially in the southern region, scarcity of water for irrigation has continuously disturbed the farmers. According to a recent report of Central Water Commission, 31 reservoirs have water storage of less than or equal to 10% of its total capacity and 11 out of 91 main reservoirs in the country have completely dried up with 0% water storage.
However, with the increased allocation to the sector in the new Budget, the government looks to improve the situation. Improvement in the sector might reflect in the employment as well, which the sector has a huge potential to provide.