New Delhi: The Indian Budget 2017 announced a slew of measures focusing on boosting farmers’ income by promising to double it in next five years and speeding up rural development. The government has also set an ambitious target of making fifty thousand Gram Panchayats to be poverty free.
The Finance Minister said that about 40% of the small and marginal farmers avail credit from the cooperative structure and the Government is committed to 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 3 years at an estimated cost of Rs 1,900 crores, with financial participation from the State Governments to ensure seamless flow of credit to small and marginal farmers.
Elaborating on other pro-farmer measures, the Finance Minister said that a Long Term Irrigation Fund has already been set-up in NABARD and the Prime Minister has announced an addition of Rs 20,000 crores to its corpus which will take the fund to Rs 40,000 crores.
Government says, with a better monsoon, agriculture is expected to grow at 4.1% in the current year i.e.2016-17 as the total area sown under kharif and rabi seasons are higher than the previous year. Presenting his Fourth Budget in Parliament today, the Finance Minister said that adequate credit would be made available to the farmers in time and the target for agricultural credit in 2017-18 has been fixed at a record level of 10 lakh crores. He said that special efforts would be taken to ensure adequate flow of credit to the under serviced areas, the Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir. The farmers will also benefit from 60 days’ interest waiver announced by the Prime Minister in respect of their loans from the cooperative credit structure.
The coverage of Fasal Bima Yojana will be increased from 30% of cropped area in 2016-17 to 40% in 2017-18 and 50% in 2018-19. The Finance Minister said that the Budget provision of `Rs. 5,500 crores for this Yojana in BE 2016-17 was increased to Rs. 13,240 crores in RE 2016-17 to settle the arrear claims. For 2017-18, a sum of Rs 9,000 crores will be provided and the sum insured under this Yojana has more than doubled from Rs 69,000 crores in Kharif 2015 to Rs 1,41,625 crores in Kharif 2016.
Referring to his last year’s Budget Speech, where the Finance Minister had focused on ‘income security’ of farmers to double their income in 5 years, Jaitley said, that the Government will take more steps and enable the farmers to increase their production and productivity and to deal with post-harvest challenges.
The coverage of National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) will be expanded from the current 250 markets to 585 APMCs. Moreover, assistance up to a ceiling of Rs 75 lakhs will be provided to every e-NAM market for establishment of cleaning, grading and packaging facilities.
Admitting that Dairy is an important source of additional income for the farmers, the Finance Minister Jaitley announced that a Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund would be set-up in NABARD with a corpus of Rs 8,000 crores over 3 years. He said that issuance of Soil Health Cards has gathered momentum, even as the Government has decided to set-up new mini labs in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and ensure 100% coverage of all 648 KVKs in the country.
The Finance Minister said that the pace of construction of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, (PMGSY) roads has accelerated to reach 133 km roads per day in 2016-17, as against an average of 73 km during the period 2011-2014. He said, that the Government is committed to complete the current target under PMGSY by 2019 and a sum of Rs 19,000 crore has been provided in 2017-18 for this scheme. He said that one crore houses would be completed by 2019 for the houseless and those living in kutcha houses as the Government has stepped up the allocation for Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin from Rs 15,000 crores in BE 2016-17 to Rs 23,000 crores in 2017-18. Jaitley expressed the hope that 100% village electrification would be achieved by 1st May 2018 and he added that an increased allocation of Rs 4,814 crores has been proposed under the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana in 2017-18.
The Finance Minister said that the Government has proposed to increase the allocations for Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Rural Livelihood Mission for promotion of skill development and livelihood opportunities for people in rural areas to Rs 4,500 crore in 2017-18. The allocation for Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) and Credit Support Schemes has been increased more than 3 times.
The Finance Minister informed the members that the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) has made tremendous progress in promoting safe sanitation and ending open defecation. Sanitation coverage in rural India has gone up from 42% in October 2014 to about 60% and such villages are now being given priority for piped water supply. He said, for imparting new skills to the people in the rural areas, mason training will be provided to 5 lakh persons by 2022, with an immediate target of training at least 20,000 persons by 2017-18.