₹ 5,000-CR MI­CRO-IR­RI­GA­TION FUND SET UP Farm­ers to Get Eas­ier Ac­cess to Credit, In­sur­ance

Bud­get ad­vises states to de­no­tify per­ish­ables from agri­cul­tural pro­duce mar­ket com­mit­tee

The Economic Times - - Front Page - Mad­hvi.Sally@ times­group.com

New Delhi: The bud­get has pro­posed var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that prom­ise to im­prove farm­ers’ in­comes and pro­duc­tiv­ity. They in­clude higher in­vest­ment in ir­ri­ga­tion, in­creased cov­er­age un­der crop in­sur­ance, a fund to de­velop dairies, wider ac­cess to credit, and ex­pan­sion of agri-mar­kets by de­no­ti­fy­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles.

The move to dou­ble long-term ir­ri­ga­tion fund to ₹ 40,000 crore will help in­crease area un­der ir­ri­ga­tion and im­prove ef­fi­ciency of ir­ri­ga­tion. Cur­rently less than half of 142 mil­lion hectares of farm­land in the coun­try is ir­ri­gated. The Bud­get also paves way for a mi­cro-ir­ri­ga­tion fund to be set up by Na­tional Bank for Agri­cul­ture and Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment (Nabard) with an ini­tial cor­pus of ₹ 5,000 crore.

“Im­prov­ing ir­ri­ga­tion ef­fi­ciency is crit­i­cal for In­dian agri­cul­ture since we have 2.4% of the world’s to­tal ge­o­graph­i­cal area, 18% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, but only 4% of the world’s to­tal fresh wa­ter re­sources,” said Harsh Ku­mar Bhan­wala, chair­man at Nabard.

The Bud­get has ad­vised states to de-no­tify per­ish­ables from agri­cul­tural pro­duce mar­ket com­mit­tee (APMC) and ex­pand the elec­tronic Na­tional Agri­cul­ture Mar­ket (eNAM) to 585 man­dis from 250 now.

“The de-no­ti­fi­ca­tion of fruits and veg­eta­bles from APMC if it hap­pens will be a wel­come an­nounce­ment be­cause farm­ers will get good rate for their pro­duce and sup­ply chain will be re­duced, lead­ing to fall in post-har­vest losses,” said Atul Chaturvedi, CEO at Adani Wil­mar, maker of For­tune brand of ed­i­ble oils. He, how­ever, said a lot more man- dis should be brought un­der eNAM con­sid­er­ing there are 15,000 man­dis in the coun­try.

Nabard has also pro­posed to set up a dairy pro­cess­ing and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment fund with an in­vest­ment of ₹ 8,000 crore over three years. RS Sodhi, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Amul, said this would cre­ate ad­di­tional pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity of 5 crore litre milk per day and will give ₹ 50,000 crore per an­num ex­tra in­come to farm­ers in the coun­try in the years ahead. The bud­get pro­posed in­creased farm credit of ₹ 10 lakh crore and widen­ing cov­er­age of Prad­han Mant r i F a s a l B i ma Yo j a n a (PMFBY) to 40% of cropped area in 2017-18 and 50% in the fol­low­ing year, up from 30% now.

To­tal Bud­get al­lo­ca­tion for agri­cul­ture, ru­ral and al­lied sec­tor stood at ₹ 1,87,280 crore.

All farm­ers are not pleased with the Bud­get though. “We hoped the Bud­get would bring re­forms to im­prove farm­ers’ liveli­hood, which is not the case,” said Ajay Vir Jakhar, chair man of Bharat Kr­ishak Sa­maj, an ad­vo­cacy group that works with farm­ers. Farm­ers to ben­e­fit from in­ter­est waiver

Plan to in­te­grate farm­ers with for bet­ter price

re­al­i­sa­tion Cor­pus of long-term ir­ri­ga­tion fund raised to Cov­er­age of na­tional agri­cul­ture mar­ket (e-NAM) to be ex­panded to

585 APMCs 40,000 crore

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