Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman promised to double farmers’ income, pegging the agricultural credit target at Rs 15 lakh crore for fiscal 2020-21, besides announcing other schemes for farmers like Kisan Rail and Krishi Udaan in her budget speech in Parliament.
Presenting her second budget, Sitharaman said Indian Railways will set up Kisan Rail in public–private partnership (PPP) mode for cold supply chain to transport perishable goods. She added that Krishi Udaan will be launched by Civil Aviation Ministry to transport agri-products to national as well international destinations.
“To build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, the Indian Railways will set up Kisan Rail through PPP model so that perishable goods can be transported quickly,” she said. She also said refrigerated parcel vans on select mail express and freight trains for carrying perishable cargo was also on the anvil.
Perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fish, meat need to be carried in such temperature controlled vans in order to travel long distances.
The proposal to use refrigerated parcel vans to ferry perishables was first announced by then railway minister Mamata Banerjee in the 2009-10 Budget, however, it has failed to take off.
Sitharaman also announced the expansion of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme under which 20 lakh farmers would be provided funds to set up standalone solar pumps. “Farmers with barren land can make their living with the new scheme by setting up solar pumps on the land,” said the minister. She added that 15 lakh farmers would be provided funds to set up grid-connected 15 lakh solar pumps.
The previous Modi government in February last year had unveiled the PM KUSUM scheme with an outlay of Rs 34,422 crore.
The minister said the scheme has removed farmers’ dependence on diesel and kerosene and linked them to solar energy. The scheme also enables the farmers to set up solar power generation capacity and sell it to the grid.
The government will also promote one horticulture crop in one district on cluster basis, she said, adding that horticulture with 311 MT exceeded production of food grains.
She also said the government will take steps for conservation of marine fishery, and self help groups will be allowed to set up village agri-storage facilities.
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