Doubling Farmers’ Income On Track?
Will the 16-point programme for agriculture and rural improvement help buoy the farm sector?
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Setting up an agriculture credit of Rs 15 lakh crore and making an incremental allocation of Rs 2.83 lakh crore towards agriculture and allied sectors, experts say, may not be enough to meet the already stated objectives like doubling farmers’ income by 2022. However, there are a number of smaller measures that have been proposed for FY21 to help the farm sector. For example, the 16-point programme for the farm sector includes a proposal to encourage state governments to undertake the implementation of the model laws (Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing and Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services). These laws have already been implemented by the central government.
Creating a cold storage facility, promoting the Village Storage Scheme, creating cold supply chain on train and aircraft, promoting horticulture and zero budget irrigation are among the 16 points to encourage the Agri sector.
As part of the Budget speech, Finance Minister Sitharaman said her government was determined to double the farmers’ income by 2022. She went on to say that the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) will be expanded to 20 lakh farmers for setting up standalone solar pumps. She also said that comprehensive measures are being proposed for 100 water-stressed districts. “Under Aspirational India programme, the first point is agriculture, irrigation and rural development. We are committed to doubling farmers’ income by 2022,” Sitharaman said.
The finance minister said the Indian Railways will set up a Kisan Rail through PPP to ferry perishable goods faster; they will have refrigerated coaches. “Krishi UDAN will also be launched on domestic and international routes,” the finance minister said.
“Horticulture exceeds the production of food grains. We propose to support states for at least one product in every district,” she added.
The finance minister proposed raising fish production to 200 lakh tonne along with the training of Sagarmitra by the government. “We will provide 20 lakh farmers with facilities for standalone solar pumps; 15 lakh farmers will get solar grid-connected pump sets. Barren land can be used to set up solar plants,” the Finance Minister said. The budget proposals also talked about the creation of Fish Farmer Producer Organisations to aid the fishery-exports target of Rs 1 lakh crore by 2024-25.
The finance minister said the government will move to discourage the use of chemical fertilisers. “Our government shall encourage balanced use of all kinds of fertilisers including traditional organic variety to discourage the use of chemical fertilisers,” Sitharaman said.
Commenting on this proposal, a senior analyst from a leading brokerage firm said: “In our view, the proposals put forward are stepping stones toward its objective of doubling farm income by 2022. Major beneficiaries of the proposals would be agrochemical and fertilizer companies (UPL, PI Industries, Coromandel International and Godrej Agrovet).”
As per the Budget proposals, a cold storage capacity of 1,062 million metric tonne for storage and warehousing will be mapped and geotagged by NABARD. This massive capacity will be facilitated by public-private partnership (PPP) model and the current target will be 15 lakh farmers by the end of this year. Sitharaman also stressed on last line farmer’s storage capacity improvement via NABARDs help and Mudra Yojna. “It will benefit them by reducing logistics costs and earn them more,” she said.
The negotiable e-receipts will also help E-NAM and improve connectivity said the FM. A dairy produce capacity of 53.5 million metric tonne has been targeted to be doubled by the year 2025 may be termed as a very target that was proposed by FM during her budget address. A marine fishery production capacity of 200 lakh tonne also remain in focus with a new regime of fishery farmers producer organisation along with Sagarmitra’s trained by the government. For a better development of meat and poultry industry trains will be fitted with refrigerated containers and exports will also be boosted for the same with the introduction of the Krishi Udan scheme by the ministry of aviation. A horticulture cluster mapping has been a repeated focus area for the FM. A new scheme of BHARATNET will also connect 1 lakh gram panchayats, the FM proposed.
Like in the past three years, the government has shifted a large part of its food subsidy to Food Corporation of India (FCI), which implies persistent reliance on off-budget borrowings.