Finance Minister Arun Jaitley looks to make farm incomes grow as he launches Operation Green initiative
It was expected Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would present a populist Budget this year given that it is this government’s last full Budget before the General Elections in 2019.
As expected, support for agriculture infrastructure has been increased with the total outlay for institutional credit for Indian agriculture proposed at Rs 10 lakh crore, up from Rs 8.4 lakh crore last year.
“It is good see the government focusing on e-NAM (electronic National Agriculture Market). It is important for farmers to get market prices and access to markets. It is good to see them push the agri sector to connect with food parks,” said Mohandas Pai, Chairman of Aarin Capital.
Jaitley added that the government was looking at increasing farm productivity and income, rather than just dole out sops. The government will, with the sops announced for the agriculture sector, look to increase exports from the sector from $30 billion to $100 billion.
“What we welcome is the support for organic farming and the support price for farmers. Operation Green, if implemented, is going to make farmers get good prices,” says Ben Raja, founder of Farm Again.
Here are the key highlights:
- Minimum support price to farmers to be 1.5 times the production price.
- In all, 470 APMCs have been connected to e-NAM, which connects farmers with mandis for price discovery.
- Around 22,000 agro hubs to be set up with NITI Aayog to allow farmers to get better price realisation. A Rs 2,000 crore fund has been set up for the same.
- A Rs 10,000 crore fund has been set up for fisheries and animal husbandries.
- To increase agriculture exports to $100 billion, linkages with 42 food parks will be created.
- The government will also facilitate a futures and options market for agriculture, along with improved warehousing facilities.
- It will encourage organic farms that are 10,000 hectares in size.
- Operation Green, which will connect farms with markets, has been launched and has been allocated a Rs 500 crore fund. This will be a logistics-related budget allocation.
Now what we need to see is how productive will farming become. It provides employment to 65 percent of the Indians, but contributes only 10 percent to the GDP.