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State presents farmer-friendly budget

Prafulla Das
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Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana to be launched to protect farmers

Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya flanked by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Health Minister Damodar Rout is presenting the budget in the Assembly on Tuesday. —Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty
Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya flanked by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Health Minister Damodar Rout is presenting the budget in the Assembly on Tuesday. —Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

Apparently with an eye on the impending Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, the Naveen Patnaik Government on Tuesday for the first time shifted its focus from industry to agriculture by announcing a special package through a separate budget for the development of agriculture and allied sectors as well as welfare of the of mobile phones costing about Rs. 1,000 per phone to 20,000 farmers under farming community.

Presenting the agriculture budget in the State Assembly, Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya said the government had decided to launch a new health insurance scheme titled Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana to protect the farmer and their families from health shock and also provide them relief in the event of accident and disability. This scheme will benefit all medium, small and marginal farmers of the State.

Mr. Acharya also announced a number of welfare schemes for farmers, including lowering of interest rates and provision the Digital Mandi Scheme, and distribution of IKSL Green SIM Card to about one lakh fishermen with facility of receiving free voice messages on the areas of immediate importance to them.

That the government wanted to keep the farming community happy ahead of the polls became clear hours after Mr. Acharya presented the budget proposals in the State Assembly.

“For the first time in the history of Odisha agriculture budget has been presented with increased fund outlay and new schemes for the welfare of the farmers. This shows the commitment of our government towards farmers,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a statement.

“I am happy that farmers can avail loan at 2 per cent interest and their health issues can be addressed through the newly launched Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana,” Mr. Patnaik said giving his reaction on the budget.

Earlier, explaining the reasons for formulation of a separate agriculture budget, Mr. Acharya told the House that the farm sector in the State was facing several challenges such as low investment, low productivity, fluctuating growth, and recurrence of natural calamities like drought, flood, and cyclone.

The other challenges that the farmers were facing include lack of adequate inputs like quality seeds, fertilizer, irrigation, availability of credit at affordable rates, effective insurance cover against crop loss and access to new technology for productivity gain, post-harvest needs like warehousing, storage and marketing facilities, he added.

“We have to increase agricultural productivity at the same rate at which our Gross State Domestic Product is rising so that the incidence of poverty among the people dependent on agriculture will decline.

This is the way by which one can reduce poverty in an agrarian economy like Odisha,” Mr. Acharya said.

The Chief Minister had personally directed him to prepare a budget dedicated to the growth of agriculture and allied sectors such as horticulture, fisheries, animal husbandry, irrigation, and cooperative credit, Mr. Acharya informed.

With these objectives in view the government had decided to substantially enhance public investment in agriculture and allied sectors in this budget from Rs. 5,627.87 crore in 2012-13 to Rs. 7,161.84 crore in 2013-14, he said.


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