Asserting that the government’s focus is on rural areas, alleviation of poverty and boosting infrastructure, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget for 2017-18 announced to raise credit to farmers to Rs. 10 lakh crore. Eyeing at an agriculture growth of 4.1 percent in the current year, Jaitley announced the farmers will be benefited from the 60-day interest waiver announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The government is targeting agriculture credit off-take of Rs. 10 lakh crore in the budget,” he said. “Fasal Bima Yojana coverage will be increased to 40 percent,” he added. He further announced the national agriculture markets to be expanding to over 585 markets and said the dairy processing infra fund will be created with a corpus of Rs. 8,000 crore in three years.
“Issuance of soil health cards has gathered momentum. We will up crop insurance coverage to 50 percent in the fiscal year 2019,” he said while announcing a long-term irrigation fund at the NABARD. “We had allotted Rs. 38,500 crore last year, but spent Rs. 47,000 crore. Next year, we are targeting spends of Rs. 48,000 crore,” Jaitley said while turning his attention to the MGNREGA.
In all, an allocation for rural, agriculture and allied industry is at Rs. 1.87 lakh crore, up 24 percent year-on-year. “We are on track to achieve rural electrification for all homes under the Deen Dayal Swasthya Seva Yojana,” he announced. The farm credit target has been raised by Rs. one lakh crore to Rs. 10 lakh crore in order to increase credit flow in the agriculture sector.
In the current fiscal year, the government’s agriculture credit target is Rs. nine lakh crore. “During the April-September period of 2016-17 fiscal, about Rs. 7.56 lakh crore credit has been disbursed to farmers and the total target is likely to be surpassed,” he added.
The government provides short-term crop loans up to Rs. three lakh at the subsidized interest rate of seven percent per annum. “Recently, the government waived Rs. 660.50 crore interest on short-term crop loans for November-December 2016 to provide relief to farmers who reeled under cash crunch on account of demonetisation,” he added.