New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday unveiled a 16-point action plan to boost the agriculture sector, proposing to raise the government’s credit target to ₹15 lakh crore for the financial year ending March 2021. The target has been raised from ₹12 lakh crore set for FY20.
Sitharaman, while presenting her second Budget, set aside a total of ₹1.6 lakh crore for the agriculture sector for FY21. In addition, ₹1.23 lakh crore has been allocated for rural development, bringing the corpus to ₹2.83 lakh crore.
The minister categorised the Union Budget for FY21 under three themes--aspirational India, economic development for all and a caring society.
Sitharaman’s proposals includes schemes to employ rural youth in fisheries and encourage farmers to produce electricity using solar panels on fallow lands.
“The government is committed to the goal of doubling farmers incomes by 2022," the minister said, highlighting the government’s previously-launched schemes such as the crop insurance scheme, rural roads programme and farmers’ income support scheme. Sitharaman added that sustainable cropping patterns, copious investments in apiary and fisheries, besides other areas are a must to push up farmers’ incomes.
The proposed 16-point action plan includes state governments that follow implementation of model laws passed by the Centre, the government’s focus on 100 water-stressed districts in India, expansion of the existing KUSUM scheme, under which farmers were weaned off their dependence on kerosene and diesel to run their water pumps and encouraged to switch to environment-friendly solar pumps.
The proposed plan will help 15 lakh farmers to solarise their grid-connected pump sets, facilitate constructing new warehouses, with the existing ones geotagged by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and bring in women self-help groups (SHGs) to manage village level storage of farm produce. To support this, the Budget has proposed that SHG women will get loans from NABARD and under the MUDRA scheme.