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BW Businessworld

Bale Of Green Promises, Union Budget 2018

A fund of Rs 612.61 crore had been established for blue revolution which has been claimed to achieve 8.9 per cent growth in fish output from the existing rate

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MS Swaminathan says that whole budget touches upon some hotspots. There are things promised that may not be easy to deliver. BW Businessworld investigates the agrarian highlights in quantitative terms.

An overall/holistic perspective for the agriculture has been a key point for this budget. There were few facts and figures which government had promised and to deliver. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) with a provision of  Rs 13014.15 crore, has been proposed to complete the insurance coverage of 50 per cent of the gross cropped area in country.

A factor for marginal farmers is a subsidy to short-term credit (STC). Interest subsidy for STC to farmers has a financial outlay of Rs 15000 crore. These Crop loans of up to Rs 3 lakh per annum has been promised to reach out to about 8.5 crore farmers at seven per cent annual interest, and at four per cent on timely repayment of crop loans had been another focus area.

Various market intervention schemes had been enabled as a measure of relief for farmers. MIS and Price Support Scheme worth Rs 200 crore had been the outlay had somehow achieved a need-based intervention in distress conditions. Green revolution is the new brainchild of this government a massive fund of Rs 13959.33 crore had been an outlay for it. Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) with Rs 3600 crore outlay had been assured where states are given complete flexibility to choose projects as per needs, priorities and resources.  

The other important aspect is Krishi unnati scheme (scheme for agriculture growth) had been envisioned, this will cover ‘Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH); CIH, Nagaland, NHB & CDB’ a total of Rs 2546.30 crore had been the outlay for which an area coverage of 1,55,085 hectare land will be covered. A cold chain/ cold room/ chambers by NHB 55 new projects had also been promised to deliver. The new plantation of 4500 hectare area is also promised. A number of 1,76,488 training persons to be deputed for the same.

Various integrated schemes for data collection had also been a focus area of for this budget. Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census & Statistics (ISACS) will be carrying a relatively low fund of Rs 250.49 crore and Rs 130 crore respectively. It has been promised to cover a vivid 25 crops, if done it may still play a moderate role. Finance minister had already covered in his budget address that a better cooperation for demand and production forecasting will be focus area.

Entire agriculture market infrastructure and national agriculture market with massive 30 lakh tons capacity rural godowns and 400 other storage infrastructure projects had been promised. Also the Integration of 200 wholesale markets with e-market platform had been projected. It will be done with a moderate budget provision of Rs 1104.50 crore, National Food Security Mission (NFSM) with Rs 1,500 crore budget had also been fixed. This will be covering a total of 4.40 million tons food grains (including rice, wheat pulses and coarse cereals).

Plant protection quarantine (PPQ) had been given a relatively less importance which is not a new chapter for this critical area. The submission for PPQ had been given a sum of 300 crore Rs which is relatively less keeping in mind that India had been on a record production track from few years. Though sub-mission for mechanisation had got Rs 1200 crore which is way better as it includes part of training some 15000 farmers. Executive Director of Sonalika ITL, Raman Mittal says, "The Union Budget 2018-19's strong pro-farmer focus can provide a much-need stimulus to the agriculture sector." Earlier to this Mahadev Chetti, ADG of agriculture education extension for Indian Council for Agriculture Research (ICAR) had already shared his experience with BW Businessworld that “One trained farmer in a village plays role of teacher for another and the chain flows."

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (the PM agriculture irrigation scheme) with Rs 4000 crore of fund will be covering additional 16 lakh hectare area under micro irrigation. India which enjoys largest irrigated land in world may be benefitted more with the micro irrigation scheme. Apart from the fact that any output projection for agriculture is still very much dependent on monsoon.

A fund of Rs 612.61 crore had been established for blue revolution which has been claimed to achieve 8.9 per cent growth in fish output from the existing rate. What makes this budget important is a 20 per cent growth vision for dairy production by 2020 which may play a key role in achieving doubling farmers’ vision by 2022.

 A Rs 676.86 crore crop science research budget may not be sufficient for a nation which enjoys most vivid climatic zones in the world. It may be though a good move to carry on with much-needed R&D budget. It appears an overestimated rise of 10 per cent in agrarian production by investment of Rs 274.07 crore of fund for agriculture extensions.

The budget may be called as a mix of funds and road maps that may be fruitful to get a three plus gross value added (GVA) by the agriculture. This may well lead to a 7-7.5 per cent growth later on which may lead to a well tracked economy. How agriculture can indirectly impact any sector can be understood from the words of Rajeev Singh, Automotive Sector Leader in Deloitte. Rajeev says, “Rise in MSP of Kharif will lead to a better buying power in rural areas which will directly impact sale of two wheelers in India”. The man who gave the recommendation for input cost in farming plus 1.5 should be the ideal MSP.  Father of green Revolution MS Swaminathan said, “On the whole, this budget addresses some of the hotspot in the field of farming. The most important being the management of monsoon and the market.

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