UNION AGRICULTURAL BUDGET 2018
The agricultural industry accounts for 17% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Almost half the population’s livelihood is dependent on agriculture indirectly or directly. This year union budget was much awaited by all concerned to know about any new reforms or policies etc. There has been a paradigm shift towards focusing on farmers and their remuneration, irrigation facilities for regions lacking them and better infrastructure and marketing operations for agriculture. Farmers toil endlessly over fields and farms and suffer when the prices of the crops fall, or they are unable to transport their products for various reasons.
Such issues and a lot more will be tackled on a better scale and credit will be given to farmers to help them sustain and earn a better living. Women-centric schemes have been introduced as well so that women can benefit by creating and sustaining groups for themselves wherein they can earn a livelihood for themselves and be independent. Agriculture has received a huge boost this year compared to before, and this will surely help the Agricultural sector as well the local and export sales and thereby improve the agricultural economy as well.
Farmer’s income is slated to go up further by 2020 and will be doubled apparently. This was much needed to support farmers and their families. The rise in temperatures has led to worse irrigation issues and crops failing etc. The new budget is taking extra efforts to ensure better irrigation facilities to take care of such and many more issues related to water crops. The Krishi Sinchayi Yojana will now include a groundwater irrigation scheme that will offer irrigation facilities to regions that do not receive water supply for agriculture.
The government is taking measures to fight pollution due to crop burning and usage of firewood for cooking. Deforestation will be stopped or reduced as much as possible. The National Green Tribunal has set strict laws to fight and save lakes and water bodies. Any misuse of lakes or polluting lakes will not be tolerated, and measures will be taken to apply fines if found polluting them. Warehousing for agricultural produce will also receive a new facelift, and this was much needed. Due to liberalization in agri exports, pulses sector will receive a boost as well. So overall emphasis is on the growth of agrarian products and reforms in the market to boost the economy of farmers as well as the country. Reforms like the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, crop insurance, profitability for farmers, facilities to trade electronically, and improvement in agro-processing will help the revival of the agricultural segment and boost farmer incomes.
Some key highlights of the Union Government’s Agricultural budget are as below –
- Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced measures to boost agricultural production, rural economy, new projects and enhanced support for existing schemes to the tune of Rs 14.34 trillion this fiscal year.
- 2000 crore has been set aside in the Agri-market Infrastructure Fund to develop and upgrade agricultural marketing infrastructure in the Grameen Agricultural Markets and APMCs.
- 22000 new Grameen Agri centers (GRAMS) will be set up to help farmers sell their produce direct
- The National Rural Livelihood Program will encourage Women Self Help Groups to take up Organic agriculture
- 200 crore has been set aside for organized cultivation
- Allocation of Ministry of Food Processing will go up to Rs 1400 crore
- 500 crore has been set aside for project Operation Greens that will promote Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management activities
- The existing Mega Food Parks will receive high-tech testing facilities
- The Kisan Credit Cards will be extended towards fishery and animal husbandry as well
- Rs 1290 crore has been allocated towards restructuring National Bamboo Mission
- Rs 10000 has been allocated towards Fishers and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) and Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) collectively
- Institutional credit for agriculture sector has gone up to Rs 11 lakh crore this year
- A favorable taxation treatment to Farmer Producers Organizations (FPO) to help them gain inputs, farm services, etc.
- A great initiative by the Government called Har Khet Ko Pani has been set up to provide irrigation to regions deprived of it. About Rs 2600 crore has been allocated for this purpose.
- Efforts would be taken to ensure adequate flow of credit to under-serviced areas such as the Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir.
- Integration of PACS with the Core Banking System will not only improve the efficiency of delivery and recovery of credit, but will also reduce losses of PACS, and will help improve their viability. The government will support NABARD for this purpose, and it will be done in 3 years at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,900 crore.
- The coverage of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has gone up to 50% this year.
- The Long-Term Irrigation Fund(LITF) will now receive a fund size of Rs 40,000 crore which is double of last year.
- e-NAM (National Agriculture Market), a single-window online service integrating mandis that were launched two years back will now receive assistance of up to Rs 75 lakh
- Currently, the NITI aayog is finalizing a model law on contract farming that will integrate farmers with agro-processing units for better price realization and reduction of post-harvest losses
- The focus this year is on rural infrastructure and improving rural livelihood conditions
- Efforts will be made to link farmers to markets to help them get better remuneration for their produce
- Kharif crops to receive Minimum Support Price (MSP) at 1.5 times the cost of production. If the crops are priced lower than MSP, then the government will ensure that the farmers do not suffer a loss. They will be provided the necessary MSP or an appropriate price.
- Even if crop prices fall, the Niti Ayog scheme will take steps to ensure farmers get remuneration
- The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) will make efforts to link villages to agricultural markets, secondary schools and hospitals