The Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 1 February 2018 presented the Union Budget 2018 in the parliament. In the independent India, this will be the 88th budget and the fifth of the Modi Sarkar.
This year's budget session is crucial as it comes after government's two big financial decisions - demonetisation and the implementation of Goods and Services Tax. It will be also NDA government's last full budget presentation before next year's Lok Sabha elections.
The Budget 2018 has identified Agriculture Sector as one of the key drivers of the economy. Accordingly, Arun Jaitley announced the following initiatives:
• The government would be doubling the farmer’s income by 2022, on the occasion of India’s 75th anniversary with special emphasis on generating higher income for farmers.
• The government's emphasis will be on generating higher incomes for farmers, by helping them produce more with lesser cost and earn higher income for their produce.
• The government wants to assist farmers to earn 1.5 times the production cost, and the Minimum Selling Price (MSP) for the Kharif Crops has been set at 1.5 times the produce price.
• The government would be working with the states to ensure that all farmers get a fair price.
• Niti Aayog would also be developing appropriate policies through which farmers would be able to get the right price for their crops.
• More than 86 per cent farmers are small and marginal.To assist these farmers, the government has decided to develop and upgrade existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs).
• In these GrAMs, physical infrastructure will be strengthened using MGNREGA and other government schemes. The government would be setting up an Agri-Market Infrastructure Fund with a corpus of `2000 crore for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22000 Grameen Agricultural Markets (GrAMs).
• Organic farming will be encouraged and women self help groups will be encouraged to take up organic farming under national rural agriculture programme.
• Allocation of Rs 1400 crore for food processing, doubled from last year's budget which allocated Rs 715 crore.
• Government plans to launch ‘Operation Green’ with a corpus of Rs 500 crore. It will promote Farmer Producers Organizations (FPOs), agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management.
• Indian Agricultural Export will be liberalised and 42 mega food parks will be launched.
• Kisan credits cards will be provided to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital needs. Small and marginal farmers will get more benefits.
• The government has set aside Rs 10,000 crore for Fisheries and Aquaculture and Animal Husbandry Development Fund.
• The government has also proposed to launch a restructured bamboo mission with a fund of Rs 1290 crore to promote bamboo sector in a holistic manner.
• The agricultural credit target has also been increased from Rs 8.5 lakh crore to Rs 11 lakh core.
The Government is going to introduce a special scheme to support the state governments of Haryana, Punjab and Delhi to manage the burning of crop residue and reduce pollution.