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Maharashtra budget 2017: Agriculture, irrigation get boost

With its policies, the government sought to underline its stated focus of ‘making sustainable agriculture a reality complete with self-reliant farmers across the state’.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai |
March 19, 2017 4:51:57 am

The greater impetus on agriculture and irrigation sectors in the budget,presented by Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar Saturday, attempted to address farmers’ concerns. With its policies, the government sought to underline its stated focus of ‘making sustainable agriculture a reality complete with self-reliant farmers across the state’.

Although the developmental plan allocation for agriculture and allied services is Rs 7,035.73 crore and for irrigation and flood control is Rs 8,701.72 crore out of the total Rs 77,184 crore across sectors, allocations through various schemes undertaken in 14 crucial departments, including skill development, rural development, tribal and social justice and infrastructure, which is an attempt to bridge the rural and urban divide, could work to farmers’ advantage. If the total allocations of all the splintered projects to help farmers are summed up, it works out to more than Rs 25,000 crore, a source in the finance ministry said.

“The quantum leap from negative to positive growth in agriculture and allied sectors (12.5 per cent) is an outcome of the policy reforms in the last two-and-a-half years. Our larger objective is to bring the maximum number of farmers within the institutional credit bracket,” said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. While reiterating the government’s commitment to higher allocation of funds in the agriculture sector till 2018-19, he said, “Doubled income of farmers by 2021 is the next achievable target.”

An allocation of Rs 1,200 crore has been made for the government’s flagship Jalyukta Shivar project, to make 5,000 villages drought-free by 2017-18. In addition, more funds will be provided from the district plan and central schemes for the project.

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A sum of Rs 225 crore has been provided for the ongoing farm pond scheme. Construction of irrigation wells under MNREGA have been further consolidated with daily wages hiked from Rs 192 to Rs 210.

While stating that 80 lakh farmers have received the soil health card, the state government, with assistance from World Bank intends to launch climate-resilient projects to make 4,000 villages in Marathwada and 1,000 villages in Purna basin drought-free.

The emphasis is on promoting agro-industries such as textile hubs,food processing, horticulture, animal husbandry and fisheries to achieve the double income goal in five years, sources said.

The model adopted is to form a group of 20 farmers who would pool 100 acres of minimum cultivable land to promote community agriculture, making it economically viable. The condition is that individual farmer should not have more than 10 acres of land. The project is aimed at uplifting 2 crore small and marginal farmers with land holding less than five hectares. After accessing the pilot project, it would be extended across the state.

As the sugarcane crop production is likely to decrease by 28 per cent, the government exempted sugarcane purchase tax for the year 2015-16 and 2016-17 of sugar mills to facilitate them to pay fair price remuneration to the farmers. Indicating that restructuring of APMC and market linkages would be scaled up to bring better support price for farmers crops, the government said public private partnership will be promoted in both agro and irrigation projects.

To maximise the area under micro irrigation, it was decided to use Israel’s micro-irrigation technology for full utilisation of the Arvi Lift Irrigation project in Wardha district and Bemble project, Yavatmal. An amount of Rs 100 crore is being provided for the project in 2017-18. Ambedkar Krishi Swavlamban Yojana is being extended to scheduled tribes besides the scheduled caste beneficiaries. An amount of Rs 92 crore is earmarked for 2017-18.

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