Affirming that the government is committed to the welfare of farmers, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday proposed a 10% increase in the agricultural loan disbursement target to Rs 16.5 trillion in the budget, and introduced an agro-infra and development tax of up to 100 percent. cent to create post-harvest infrastructure to improve farmers’ incomes.
The Minister also proposed a higher allocation for the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund and the Micro-Irrigation Fund, and extended the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund to APMCs to increase infrastructure.
The government has also proposed substantial investments for the development of fishing ports, fish landing centers and the promotion of seaweed farming.
Presenting the first digital budget to parliament, Sitharaman said the agriculture proposal will further strengthen “the nation’s Sankalp first, doubling farmers’ incomes, strong infrastructure…”, among others.
To provide adequate credit to our farmers, the minister said, “I have raised the agricultural credit target to Rs 16.5 trillion in FY22. We will focus on increasing the flow of credit for livestock, dairy products and fishing”.
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The agricultural credit target set for the next fiscal year, however, is higher than the 15 trillion rupees set for the current fiscal year.
Stressing the need to improve agricultural infrastructure to ensure higher remuneration for farmers, the Minister of Finance has proposed an Agricultural Infrastructure and Development Tax (AIDC) in the range of 2.5 to 100% on certain products .
“There is an immediate need to improve agricultural infrastructure so that we produce more, while efficiently conserving and transforming agricultural production. This will ensure better remuneration for our farmers,” she said.
However, while enforcing this tax, the government has been careful not to impose an additional charge on consumers on most items, she noted.
Last year, the government announced the Rs 1 trillion Agricultural Infrastructure Fund to fund projects at subsidized rates for post-harvest infrastructure facilities.
Apart from the new tax, the Minister said that the Agricultural Infrastructure Fund would be made available to Agricultural Commodity Marketing Committees (APMC) to increase their infrastructure.
The minister also proposed to increase the allocation to the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund from Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore and to double the corpus of the Micro-Irrigation Fund from the current Rs 5,000 crore created under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
To boost value addition in agriculture and related products and their exports, the finance minister said that the scope of “Operation Green Scheme” which currently applies to tomatoes, onions and apples of land, will be expanded to include 22 perishable products.
On the Electronic National Agriculture Market (eNAM), she said about 1.68 crore farmers are registered and Rs 1.14 trillion worth of trade has been made through the electronic platform.
“Keeping in mind the transparency and competitiveness that e-NAM has brought to the agricultural market, an additional 1,000 mandis will be integrated into e-NAM,” she said.
To boost the fishing sector, the Minister has proposed substantial investments in the development of modern fishing ports and fish landing centers.
To begin with, five major fishing ports Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Petuaghat will be developed as centers of economic activity. We will also develop inland fishing ports and fish landing centers along the banks of rivers and waterways, she said.
Stating that seaweed farming is an emerging sector with the potential to transform the lives of coastal communities, the minister said it will provide large-scale jobs and additional income.
“To promote seaweed farming, I propose the establishment of a multi-purpose seaweed park in Tamil Nadu,” she added.
On government grain purchases, the Minister of Finance said: “The Minimum Support Price (MSP) scheme has undergone a radical change to ensure a price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production for all products”.
Purchases also continued to increase at a healthy pace. This resulted in a substantial increase in payments to farmers, she added.
Government payment to farmers for purchasing wheat, rice, pulses and cotton has increased significantly since 2013-2014, Sitharaman said.
When the minister was speaking about the MSP procurement, the opposition shouted slogans saying the government should repeal the new farm laws, which some farmers have been protesting at Delhi’s borders for more than two months now.
Sharing more on MSP purchases, the minister said government payment on wheat purchases increased to Rs 62,802 crore in 2019-20 and even better in 2020-21 from the level of Rs 33,874 crore. rupees in 2013-14. Around 43.36 lakh of wheat farmers benefited from the MSP payment in 2020-21 compared to 35.57 lakhs last year.
Similarly, MSP payment on purchase of rice increased to Rs 1,41,930 crore in 2019-20 and to around Rs 1,72,752 crore in 2020-21 from Rs 63,928 crore in 2013-14.
Payment to farmers for purchase of pulses increased to Rs 10,530 crore in 2020-21, more than 40 times higher than Rs 236 crore in 2013-14, while payment to cotton growers increased to Rs 25,974 crore until January 27 this year. Rs 90 crore in 2013-14.