Nagesh Prabhu

Economic growth rate of 9 p.c. cannot be sustained without accele-rating farm growth

BANGALORE: "The Union Budget does not address the falling net incomes of farmers and increasing agricultural productivity in the pockets where it has stagnated and declining during the last five years," said R.S. Deshpande, professor and head, Agricultural Development and Rural Transformation Centre, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.

The allocation to irrigation was Rs. 11,000 crore whereas rain-fed areas would get 1/10th of that.

The National Rainfed Area Authority, which was to be established nine months ago and which file is still gathering dust in the Ministry, has been provided Rs. 100 crore without actually establishing anything on the ground, Prof. Deshpande said.

The Union Finance Minister promises to introduce new fertilizer subsidies and the agricultural technology management agencies' operation is extended to 38 more districts, without any review of the performance of earlier scheme, he said.

"The Budget proposals simply scratch the surface as far as the agricultural sector is concerned and presumably, the Union Finance Minister wants to achieve a 4 per cent growth rate in the sector with these tools," he said.

In view of the low rate of growth in agriculture, R. Dwarakinath and S. Bisaliah, former vice-chancellors of University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, said the Budget had not focussed streamlining the extension delivery system and promote production plan of commodities region-wise.

Prof. Dwarakinath said generation of technology is either static or declining today. He said: "The increase in lending would not benefit farmers as a large number of them don't know how to use it."

Prof. Bisaliah said low agricultural growth rate (2.3 per cent) was the major reason for inflation.

"The Union Finance Minister has neglected the farm sector in the information technology-led growth of the economy." The economic growth rate of 9 per cent could not be sustained over a long period without accelerating the farm growth, he said.

`Anti-farmer'

Puttaswamy of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha said: "It is ironical that we make an allocation of only Rs. 500 crore for agricultural insurance while we put aside Rs. 550 crore for commonwealth games.

"The Budget has at another level hit local market by reducing import tax on agricultural products. The high subsidy for fertilizers will help the industry more than farmers. A budget that does not provide market security to farmers cannot be a farmer-friendly budget."

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