Union Budget 2018-19 Highlights: Agriculture and Rural Economy

Here, in this article, we have provided the highlights of the Union Budget 2018-19 for the allocations and promises done for the Agriculture and Rural Economy for the year 2018-19. The given topic is much helpful for IAS aspirants preparing for the IAS Exam 2018.

Union Budget 2018-19 Highlights: Agriculture and Rural Economy
Union Budget 2018-19 Highlights: Agriculture and Rural Economy

Here, we have analysed the Union Budget 2018-19 for the allocations and promises done for the Agriculture and Rural Economy for the year 2018-19. The given topic is much helpful for IAS aspirants preparing for the IAS Exam 2018

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In the Union Budget 2018-19, the Government has focussed more on to the welfare of farmers and doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and here are the few promises for the year 2018-19.

Minimum Support Price

The Government has decided to keep MSP for all unannounced kharif crops at least one and half times of their production cost after declaring the same for the majority of Rabi crops.

The volume of institutional credit for agriculture sector from year-to-year increased from Rs.8.5 lakh crore in 2014-15 to Rs.10 lakh crore in 2017-18 and now for the year 2018-19, government has proposed to raise the institutional credit to Rs.11 lakh crore.

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Fisheries and Animal Husbandry Sector

Government has announced setting up a Fisheries and Aqua culture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) for fisheries sector and an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for financing infrastructure requirement of animal husbandry sector with a total corpus of  Rs.10,000 crore for the two new funds.

On the lines of ‘‘Operation Flood’’ a new Scheme ‘‘Operation Greens’’ was announced with an outlay of Rs 500 Crore to address the challenge of price volatility of perishable commodities like tomato, onion and potato with the satisfaction of both the farmers and consumers.

Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs)

The Government has also announced to develop and upgrade existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) to take care of the interests of more than 86% small and marginal farmers.

The GrAMs will be electronically linked to e-NAM and exempted from regulations of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) which will provide farmers facility to make direct sale to consumers and bulk purchasers.

Moreover, an Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of Rs.2000 crore will be setup for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) and 585APMCs.

Around 470 APMCs have been connected to e-NAM network so far and rest will be connected by March, 2018.

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Organic Farming

The Government has announced Rs 200 crore for organized cultivation of highly specialized medicinal and aromatic plants which will encourage the organic farming Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) and Village Producers’ Organizations (VPOs) in large clusters , preferably of 1000 hectares each.

Allocation of Ministry of Food Processing has been doubled from Rs.715 crore in 2017-18 to Rs.1400 crore in 2018-19.

Terming Bamboo as ‘Green Gold’, the Finance Minister announced a Re-structured National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs.1290 crore to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner.

Krishi Sinchai Yojna

Under Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojna - Har Khet ko Pani, 96 deprived irrigation districts will be taken up with an allocation of Rs 2600 crore.

The Centre will work with the state governments to facilitate farmers for installing solar water pumps to irrigate their fields.

Government has also proposed to extend the facility of Kisan Credit Cards to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital needs.

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Loans to Self Help Groups of women

The loan allocation for the Self Help Groups of women has increased to about Rupees 42,500 crore in 2016-17, growing 37% over previous year and the Government has also expressed confidence that  loans to SHGs will increase to Rs.75,000 crore by March, 2019.

The Government has substantially increased allocation of National Rural Livelihood Mission to Rs 5750 crore in 2018-19.

For the benefit of lower middle class, distribution of free LPG connections will be given to 8 crore poor women instead of the previous target of 5 crore women under Ujjwala Scheme.

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Other measures

As per the Government’s record, India’s agri-exports potential is as high as US $100 billion against current exports of US $30 billion and to realize this potential, export of agri-commodities will be liberalized.

Government has proposed to set up state-of-the-art testing facilities in all the forty two Mega Food Parks.

To cater and address air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region due to crop residue, Government has announced a special scheme to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi.

Under Saubahagya Yojana, 4 crore poor households are being provided with electricity connection with an outlay of Rs.16, 000 crore.

To fulfil target of housing for All by 2022 ,more than one crore houses will be built by 2019 in rural areas, besides already constructed 6 crore toilets under Swachh Bharat Mission.

In the Union Budget 2018-19, it has been stressed that the focus of the Government next year will be on providing maximum livelihood opportunities in the rural areas by spending more on livelihood, agriculture and allied activities and construction of rural infrastructure.

In the year 2018-19, for creation of livelihood and infrastructure in rural areas, total amount to be spent by the Ministries will be Rs.14.34 lakh crore, including extra-budgetary and non-budgetary resources of Rs.11.98 lakh crore.

From the above allocation, employment of 321 crore person days, 3.17 lakh kilometres of rural roads, 51 lakh new rural houses, 1.88 crore toilets, and provide 1.75 crore new household electric connections besides boosting agricultural growth.

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The agriculture sector in India is experiencing structural changes which are opening up new challenges and opportunities. The Government has initiated reforms in the field of agricultural marketing, given a big push to the use of technology in agriculture, and also adopted Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode for timely delivery of extension services, credit and other inputs to small and marginal farmers. The major priority of the government seems to provide opportunities for farmers and to diversify their income generating opportunities by reducing the various risk factors and facilitating the development of agricultural sub-sectors like livestock and fisheries.

The transformation of agriculture and allied sector is imminent by way of appropriate policy interventions related to prices, trade, adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture, increased focus on small, marginal and women farmers. Though the share of agriculture and allied sector in GVA is on the decline, in the quest for inclusive economic development in India, agriculture sector will remain an engine of broad based growth which will reduce inequalities and provide food security.

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