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Indian Budget 2010-11- Full Text- February 26, 2010


CONSOLIDATING GROWTH

Agriculture Growth

44. The agriculture sector occupies centre-stage in our resolve to promote inclusive growth, enhance rural incomes and sustain food security. To spur the growth in this sector, the Government intends to follow a four-pronged strategy covering (a) agricultural production; (b) reduction in wastage of produce; (c) credit support to farmers; and (d) a thrust to the food processing sector.

45. The first element of the strategy is to extend the green revolution to the eastern region of the country comprising Bihar, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Eastern UP, West Bengal and Orissa, with the active involvement of Gram Sabhas and the farming families. For the year 2010-11, I propose to provide Rs.400 crore for this initiative.

46. In the 60th year of the Republic, it is proposed to organise 60,000 "pulses and oil seed villages" in rain-fed areas during 2010-11 and provide an integrated intervention for water harvesting, watershed management and soil health, to enhance the productivity of the dry land farming areas. I propose to provide Rs.300 crore for this purpose. This initiative will be an integral part of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

47. The gains already made in the green revolution areas have to be sustained through conservation farming, which involves concurrent attention to soil health, water conservation and preservation of biodiversity. I propose an allocation of Rs.200 crore for launching this climate resilient agriculture initiative.



48. The second element of the strategy relates to reduction of significant wastages in storage as well as in the operations of the existing food supply chains in the country. This needs to be addressed. As the Prime Minister has said recently, "We need greater competition and therefore need to take a firm view on opening up of the retail trade." It will help in bringing down the considerable difference between the farm gate prices, wholesale prices and retail prices.

49. There is wastage of grain procured for buffer stocks and public distribution system due to acute shortage of storage capacity in the Food Corporation of India. This deficit in the storage capacity is met through an ongoing scheme for private sector participation where the FCI has been hiring godowns from private parties for a guaranteed period of 5 years. This period is now being extended to 7 years.

50. The third element of the strategy relates to improving the availability of credit to farmers. I am happy to inform the honourable Members that banks have been consistently meeting the targets set for agriculture credit flow in the past few years. For the year 2010-11, the target has been raised to Rs.3,75,000 crore from Rs.3,25,000 crore in the current year.

51. The Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme for Farmers was a major initiative of the UPA Government. In view of the recent drought in some States and the severe floods in some other parts of the country, I propose to extend by six months the period for repayment of the loan amount by farmers from December 31, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

52. In the last budget, I had provided an additional one per cent interest subvention as an incentive to those farmers who repay their short-term crop loans as per schedule. I propose to raise this subvention for timely repayment of crop loans from one per cent to two per cent for 2010-11. Thus, the effective rate of interest for such farmers will now be five per cent per annum. Necessary provision in the Budget has been made.

53. The fourth element of the strategy aims at lending a further impetus to the development of food processing sector by providing state-of-the art infrastructure. In addition to the ten mega food park projects already being set up, the Government has decided to set up five more such parks.

54. As a part of the farm to market initiative, External Commercial Borrowings will henceforth be available for cold storage or cold room facility, including for farm level pre-cooling, for preservation or storage of agricultural and allied produce, marine products and meat. Changes in the definition of infrastructure under the ECB policy are being made.



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