QuickTake: Piyush Goyal announces Rs 6,000 annual grant for small farmers in the Interim BudgetThimmaya Poojary
The Interim Budget saw the announcement of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, where farmers with land holdings of up to two hectares will receive Rs 6,000 every year in three instalments. The amount will be directly transferred to their bank accounts.
The Interim Budget, presented by Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday announced a major bonanza for the agricultural sector in the country, with a new scheme that provides an assured income of Rs 6,000 per year to all those farmers who have land holdings of up to two hectares.
The Minister said the new Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme will be fully funded by the Government of India, and this is expected to benefit nearly 12 crore farmers. The total outlay for this project is estimated at Rs 75,000 crore.
The scheme announced in the Interim Budget is akin to a basic income to the farmers, and will be effective from December 1, 2018. The first instalment for the period up to March 31, 2019, will be paid during this year itself, the minister said. The amount will be transferred directly to the farmers account in three instalments.
Other benefits for farmers in the Budget
The Interim Budget also had major sops for farmers in the form of an assured income, and a 2 percent interest rate subvention following natural disasters. A benefit of 2 percent interest subvention to farmers pursuing animal husbandry and fisheries was also announced. There, however, were no loan waivers. The Minister also announced a major scheme for workers in the unorganised sector, and an incentive of 3 percent interest rebate for prompt loan repayment to all farmers was announced.
The Finance Minister also said the government will create a separate Ministry for Fisheries, as India is the second largest fish producer globally.
Goyal said that rural distress has been a major challenge for the government, with low prices and uncertain weather conditions, which in turn has increased stress in the agriculture sector. Hence, the NDA government has promised to double the farmers' income by 2022.
The National Institute for Transforming India said in a report in 2017 that for farmers’ income to double by 2022, the agricultural sector needs to grow at an annual rate of 10.4 percent. In 2016, the average monthly income was Rs 9,000, according a survey conducted by the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development.
According to the draft agriculture export policy by the Commerce and Industry Ministry, India is a leading producer of cereals, milk, sugar, fruits and vegetables, and spices. Indian agriculture continues to be the backbone of the society, providing livelihood to nearly 58 percent of the population. It supports 17.84 percent of the world’s population with merely 2.4 percent of the world’s land and 4 percent of water resources.