In a major step, the Government has fixed a target of Rs 10 lakh crore for farm credit for the year 2017-18 in its annual budget. It is one lakh crore higher than the the previous year. Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley said while presenting the Budget 2017-18, with a better monsoon, agriculture is expected to grow at 4.1 percent in the current year, 2016-17 as the total area sown under kharif and rabi seasons are higher than the previous year. Presenting his fourth Budget in Parliament today, the Finance Minister said that adequate credit would be made available to the farmers in time and the target for agricultural credit in 2017-18 has been fixed at a record level of 10 lakh crores. He said that special efforts would be taken to ensure adequate flow of credit to the under serviced areas, the Eastern States and Jammu & Kashmir. The farmers will also benefit from 60 days’ interest waiver announced by the the Prime Minister in respect of their loans from the cooperative credit structure.
Jaitley said that about 40 percent of the small and marginal farmers avail credit from the cooperative structure and the Government was committed to support NABARD for computerisation and integration of all 63,000 functional Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) with the Core Banking System of District Central Cooperative Banks. This will be done in 3 years at an estimated cost of Rs 1,900 crores, with financial participation from the State Governments to ensure seamless flow of credit to small and marginal farmers.
Elaborating on other measures, the Finance Minister said that a Long Term Irrigation Fund had already been set-up in NABARD and the Prime Minister had announced an addition of Rs 20,000 crores to its corpus which would take the fund to Rs 40,000 crores.
The coverage of Fasal Bima Yojana will be increased from 30 percent of cropped area in 2016-17 to 40 percent in 2017-18 and 50 percent in 2018-19. The Finance Minister said that the Budget provision of Rs. 5,500 crores for this Yojana in BE 2016-17 was increased to Rs. 13,240 crores in RE 2016-17 to settle the arrear claims. For 2017-18, a sum of Rs 9,000 crores will be provided and the sum insured under this Yojana has more than doubled from Rs 69,000 crores in Kharif 2015 to Rs 1,41,625 crores in Kharif 2016.
Referring to his last year’s Budget Speech, where the Finance Minister had focused on ‘income security’ of farmers to double their income in 5 years, Jaitley said, the Government will take more steps and enable the farmers to increase their production and productivity and to deal with post-harvest challenges. The coverage of National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) will be expanded from the current 250 markets to 585 APMCs. Moreover, assistance up to a ceiling of Rs 75 lakhs will be provided to every e-NAM market for establishment of cleaning, grading and packaging facilities.
Admitting that Dairy is an important source of additional income for the farmers, the Finance Minister announced that a Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund would be set-up in NABARD with a corpus of Rs 8,000 crores over 3 years. He said that issuance of Soil Health Cards has gathered momentum, even as the Government has decided to set-up new mini labs in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and ensure 100 percent coverage of all 648 KVKs in the country.