In a first for the Congress Government in Andhra Pradesh, the Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana on Monday presented immediately after the regular budget for 2013-14 a new agricultural action plan for the farm sector which proposes to allocate a sum of Rs. 25,962.02 crore for the year 2013-14.

The Minister said this agriculture budget will show a way in ushering in a new era for the farmers and suggest solutions for the problems engulfing the sector. The budget includes plan component of Rs. 17,694.61 crore and non-plan component of Rs. 8,267.41 crores.

Supplementary to these proposed budgetary allocations, an amount of Rs. 72,450 crore is planned under agricultural credit plan. This makes the total investment for the farm sector as Rs. 98,940.54 crores as against Rs. 79,924.78 crores, an increase of about 24 per cent over last year.

In tune with the basic theme of 12th Five Year Plan, “faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth” and in order to achieve the growth target of 6 per cent under the farm sector, the State has set an ambitious target of increasing food grain production to 300 lakh tonnes by 2016-17.

The Minister said key strategies identified for the farm sector to grow rapidly are: establishment of agriculture technology mission for convergence among concerned departments, strategies to optimise and harness potential of horticulture, animal husbandry and fishery as farm sector growth engines.

Highlighting the farm sector initiatives, the Minister said for the year 2013-14, the Government proposes to continue implementation of supply of quality seeds, Polam Badi (Farmers Field School), extension services, RKVY, National Agricultural Insurance Scheme, National Food Security Mission, Pavala Vaddi and interest free crop loans to farmers, farm mechanisation and input subsidies.

A controversy broke out in the Assembly whether the Government was entitled under the Constitution to present a separate budget for agriculture. However, Finance Minister A. Ramnarayana Reddy clarified that there was a printing error in the books circulated to members and it was indeed an action plan that was presented by Mr. Kanna Lakshminarayana. This explanation did not satisfy the Telugu Desam members who staged a walk out from the Assembly.