Budget 2017: Social sector

Farm sector gets more, crop insurance raised

While farmers were disproportionately hit by demonetisation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley focussed his promises on helping them access increased credit and said the government would channel more money for irrigation.

Budget documents suggest that allocations made to the Agriculture Ministry were ₹51,026 crore or about 6% over last year’s updated estimates. “It [Budget Speech] is quite insipid,” said Ajay Vir Jhakkar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, as “there is no relief or measures to ease the effects of demonetisation.”

On the back of a reasonable monsoon, agriculture is forecast to grow at 4.1% in the current year and Mr. Jaitley said the government would be focussed on keeping last year’s promise to double farmer income in five years.

“We have to take more steps and enable the farmers to increase their production and productivity; and to deal with post-harvest challenges.”

The target for agricultural credit in 2017-18 was fixed at ₹10 lakh crore, a “record” according to Mr. Jaitley.

The Fasal Bima Yojana (FBY), or the Prime Minister’s farm insurance scheme, which covered 30% of cropped area in 2016-17 has been extended to 40% in 2017-18 and is expected to cover half the country in 2018-19.

The Budget provided ₹5,500 crore for the scheme last February but increased it to ₹13,240 crore to settle the arrear claims; ₹9,000 crore has been allotted for the scheme this year.

Farmer groups allege that more than them, insurance companies have benefited from the FBY scheme. “Expenditure on premium increased to ₹13,240 crore but covered only 26.5% of farmers. All this money went to insurance companies. There is no mention of how much claims the farmers got in return,” farmer group, Swaraj Abhiyaan said in a statement.

A dedicated irrigation fund set up last year by NABARD to improve the coverage and efficiency of irrigation services would double its corpus from ₹20,000 crore to ₹40,000 crore. The National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) will be expanded from the current 250 markets to 585 APMCs and a Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund set up in NABARD with a corpus of ₹8,000 crore over 3 years.

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 9:10:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/Farm-sector-gets-more-crop-insurance-raised/article17131017.ece

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