Agri Ministry budget hiked by nearly 64pc to Rs 129585-cr for 2019-20

Agri Ministry budget hiked by nearly 64pc to Rs 129585-cr for 2019-20

Agency News

New Delhi, Feb 1: In a bid to address agrarian distress, the government has hiked the allocation for the Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Ministry to a whopping Rs 129585.21 crore for 2019-20 from Rs 46,700 crore in 2018-19, marking an all-time increase of nearly 64 per cent over last year.

This includes annual provision of Rs 75,000 crore for the newly announced fully centrally funded Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN) announced by Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his interim budget proposals for 2019-20 presented in Parliament here on Friday.

While Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said the budget reflects the government’s commitment to double farmers’ income by 2022, Yogendra Yadav-led Swaraj India said ``the amount is too meager to make a difference to farmers’ plight’’.

The PMKSN is meant to provide structured income support to poor land-holder farmer families for procuring inputs at the time of sowing.

It entails providing Rs 6,000 in a year directly to farmers who have a land holding of up to two hectares. Around 12.5 crore small and marginal small farmers will benefit from the support.

The Revised Estimate shows an increase of Rs 21,100 crore primarily to provide for the first installment of Rs 2000 which will be credited directly to farmers’ bank account with immediate effect.

A list of qualifying farmers will be availed from state government for the purpose.

Rs 2,000 will be provided every quarter to help farmers with inputs such as quality seeds, fertilisers, neem coated urea and so on, the Minister said.

"The programme would be made effective from December 1, 2018 and the first installment for the period up to March 31, 2019 would be paid during this year itself,’’ he said.

He said that declining international prices of farm commodities and fall in food inflation since 2017-18 had reduced returns from farming, with small and fragmented land holdings causing further decline in farm incomes.

The Minister observed that 'hard working farmers’ were not getting the full value for their produce and with the aim to double their income, the government had fixed the minimum support price of all 22 crops at 50 per cent more than the production cost.

Mr Goyal said that the government had spent Rs 1.7 lakh crore to supply foodgrains at cheaper price to poor in 2018-19, as against Rs 92,000 crore in 2013-14.

He said the allocation to MNREGA had been hiked to Rs 60,000 crore for 2019-20.

At the same time, the crop loan to farmers had increased to Rs 11.68 lakh crore in year 2018-19.

While raising allocation to Rs 750 crore for Rashtriya Gokul Mission, the Minister announced setting up of Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog to upscale sustainable genetic up-gradation of cow resources and to enhance production and productivity of cows. The Aayog will also look after effective implementation of laws and welfare schemes for cows.

To provide sustained and focused attention towards development of fisheries that provides livelihood to about 1.45 crore people, the government decided to create a separate Department of Fisheries.

In the last Budget, the government announced the facility of extension of Kisan Credit Card scheme (KCC) to Animal Husbandry and Fisheries farmers.

In this budget, the Finance Minister provided the benefit of 2 per cent interest subvention to animal husbandry and fisheries farmers, who avail loan through Kisan Credit Card.

For timely repayment of loan, they will also get an additional 3 per cent interest subvention.

To ensure provision of easy and concessional credit and to bring all farmers under KCC fold, the government has decided to initiate a comprehensive drive with a simplified application form.

For repayment of crop loans rescheduled for calamity affected farmers where assistance is provided from National Disaster Relief Fund, the interest subvention for prompt payment has been raised to five per cent.

Reacting to the budget provisions for farmers, Alliance for Agri Innovation said it was a "pro-farmer, pro-agriculture budget’’ but research and development and public-private partnerships should be encouraged. (UNI)