Jaitley's budget focuses on rural and agricultural development


NC Network, New Delhi 

Government has decided to keep MSP for all unannounced kharif crops atleast one and half times of their production cost after declaring the same for the majority of rabi cops. He said,the volume of institutional credit for agriculture sector from year-to-year increased from Rs.8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs.10 lakh crore in 2017-18 and he proposed to raise this to Rs.11 lakh crore for the year 2018-19.  

After the establishment of Dairy Infrastructure Fund, Jaitley announced setting up a Fisheries and Aqua culture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) for fisheries sector and an Animal Husandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for financing infrastructure requirement of animal husbandry sector with a total corpus of  Rs.10,000 crore for the two new funds.  On the lines of „„Operation Flood‟‟ a new Scheme Operation Green was announced with an outlay of Rs 500 Crore to address the challenge of price volatility of perishable commodities like tomato, onion and potato with the satisfaction of both the farmers and consumers. He also announced to develop and upgrade existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) to take care of the interests of more  than 86% small and marginal farmers. 

These GrAMs, electronically linked to e-NAM and exempted from regulations of APMCs, will provide farmers facility to make direct sale to consumers and bulk purchasers. Moreover, an Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of Rs.2000 crore will be setup for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) and 585APMCs. He said, so far 470 APMCs have been connected to e-NAM network and rest will be connected by March, 2018. Jaitley announced Rs 200 crore  for organized cultivation of  highly specialized medicinal and aromatic plants and said that the organic farming by Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Village Producers‟ Organizations (VPOs) in large clusters, preferably of 1000 hectares each will be encouraged. 

Similarly, allocation of Ministry of Food Processing has been doubled from Rs.715 crore in 2017-18 to Rs.1400 crore in 2018-19. Terming Bamboo as „Green Gold‟, the Finance Minister announced a Re-structured National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs.1290 crore to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner. 



Under  Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojna-Har Khet ko Pani, 96 deprived irrigation districts will be taken up with an allocation of Rs 2600 crore. The Centre will work with the state governments to facilitate farmers for installing solar water pumps to irrigate their fields. He also proposed to extend the facility of Kisan Credit Cards to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital needs. 

Jaitley said India‟s agri-exports potential is as high as US $100 billion against current exports of US $30 billion and to realize this potential, export of agri-commodities will be liberalized. He also proposed to set up state-of-the-art testing facilities in all the forty two Mega Food Parks. He also announced a special Scheme to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution  in the Delhi-NCR region by subsidizing machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue. 

On the loans to Self Help Groups of women, the Finance Minister said it increased to about Rupees 42,500 crore in 2016-17, growing 37% over previous year and expressed confidence that  loans to SHGs will increase to Rs.75,000 crore by March, 2019. 

Finance Minister said, under Ujjwala Scheme distribution of free LPG connections will be given to 8 crore poor women instead of the previous target of  5 crore women. He said, in the year 2018-19, for creation of livelihood and infrastructure in rural areas, total amount to be spent by the Ministries will be Rs.14.34 lakh crore, including extra-budgetary and non-budgetary resources of Rs.11.98
lakh crore.  

Apart from employment due to farming activities and self employment, this expenditure will create employment of 321 crore person days, 3.17 lakh kilometers of rural roads, 51 lakh new rural houses, 1.88 crore toilets, and provide 1.75 crore new household electric connections besides boosting agricultural growth.  

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