Indian Budget 2011-12
Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of Finance- February 28, 2011
50. Agriculture development is central to our growth strategy. Measures taken during the current year have started attracting private investment in agriculture and agro-processing activities. This process has to be deepened further.
51. In the Budget for 2010-11, I had delineated a four-pronged strategy covering agricultural production, reduction in wastage of produce, credit support to farmers and a thrust to the food processing sector. These initiatives have started showing results but there are other issues in our food economy that require attention. The recent spurt in food prices was driven by increase in the prices of items like fruits and vegetables, milk, meat, poultry and fish, which account for more than 70 per cent of the WPI basket for primary food items. Removal of production and distribution bottlenecks for these items will be the focus of my attention this year. I propose to make allocations for these schemes under the ongoing Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for an early take off. The total allocation of RKVY is being increased from `6,755 crore in 2010-11 to `7,860 crore in 2011-12.
Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern Region
52. The Green Revolution in Eastern Region is waiting to happen. To realize the potential of the region, last year's initiative will be continued in 2011-12 with a further allocation of `400 crore. The program would target the improvement in the rice based cropping system of Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Integrated Development of 60,000 pulses villages in rainfed areas
53. Government's initiative on pulses has received a positive response from the farmers. As per the second advance estimates, a record production of 165 lakh tonnes of pulses is expected this year as against 147 lakh tonnes last year. While consolidating these gains, we must strive to attain self-sufficiency in production of pulses within next three years. I propose to provide an amount of `300 crore to promote 60,000 pulses villages in rainfed areas for increasing crop productivity and strengthening market linkages.
Promotion of Oil Palm
54. The domestic production of edible oil meets only about 50 per cent demand. The gap in supply is met through imports, which are often at high prices due to the quantum of our requirement. Our recent interventions and good rains are expected to result in a higher oilseeds production of 278 lakh tonnes in 2010-11 as against 249 lakh tonnes in 2009-10. To achieve a major breakthrough, we have to pay special attention to oil palm as it is one of the most efficient oil crops. I propose to provide an amount of `300 crore to bring 60,000 hectares under oil palm plantation, by integrating the farmers with the markets. The initiative will yield about 3 lakh metric tonnes of palm oil annually in 5 years.
Initiative on Vegetable Clusters
55. The growing demand for vegetables has to be met by a robust increase in the productivity and market linkage. An efficient supply chain, to provide quality vegetables at competitive prices will have to be established. I propose to provide an amount of `300 crore for implementation of vegetable initiative to set in motion a virtuous cycle of higher production and incomes for the farmers. To begin with, this programme will be launched near major urban centres.
56. While we ensure food for all, we must also promote balanced nutrition. Bajra, jowar, ragi and other millets are highly nutritious and are known to possess several medicinal properties. The availability and consumption of these Nutri-cereals is, however, low and has been steadily declining over recent years. A provision of `300 crore is being made to promote higher production of these cereals, upgrade their processing technologies and create awareness regarding their health benefits. This initiative would provide market linked production support to ten lakh millet farmers in the arid and semi-arid regions of the country. The programme would be taken up in 1000 compact blocks covering about 25,000 villages. This will help improve nutritional security and increase feed and fodder supply for livestock.
National Mission for Protein Supplements
57. The consumption of foods rich in animal protein and other nutrients has risen of late, with demand growing faster than production. The National Mission for Protein Supplements is being launched in 2011-12 with an allocation of `300 crore. It will take up activities to promote animal based protein production through livestock development, dairy farming, piggery, goat rearing and fisheries in selected blocks.
Accelerated Fodder Development Programme
58. Adequate availability of fodder is essential for sustained production of milk. It is necessary to accelerate the production of fodder through intensive promotion of technologies to ensure its availability throughout the year. I propose to provide `300 crore for Accelerated Fodder Development Programme which will benefit farmers in 25,000 villages.
59. Hon'ble Members may be curious as to why all these new initiatives are being launched with an allocation of `300 crore. Well, the number 3 happens to be my lucky number !
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
60. While the need to maximize crop yields to meet the growing demand for food grains is critical, we have to sustain agricultural productivity in the long run. There has been deterioration in soil health due to removal of crop residues and indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers, aided by distorted prices.
61. To address these issues, the Government proposes to promote organic farming methods, combining modern technology with traditional farming practices like green manuring, biological pest control and weed management.
62. To get the best from their land, farmers need access to affordable credit. Banks have been consistently meeting the targets set for agriculture credit flow in the past few years. For the year 2011-12, I am raising the target of credit flow to the farmers from `3,75,000 crore this year to `4,75,000 crore in 2011-12. Banks have been asked to step up direct lending for agriculture and credit to small and marginal farmers.
63. The existing interest subvention scheme of providing short term crop loans to farmers at 7 per cent interest will be continued during 2011-12. In the last budget, I had provided an additional 2 per cent interest subvention to those farmers who repay their crop loans on time. The response to this scheme has been good. In order to provide further incentive to these farmers, I propose to enhance the additional subvention to 3 per cent in 2011-12. Thus, the effective rate of interest for such farmers will be 4 per cent per annum.
64. In view of the enhanced target for flow of agriculture credit, I propose to strengthen NABARD's capital base by infusing `3000 crore, in a phased manner, as Government equity. This would raise its paid-up capital to `5,000 crore. To enable NABARD refinance the short-term crop loans of the cooperative credit institutions and RRBs at concessional rates, I propose a contribution of `10,000 crore to NABARDís Short-term Rural Credit Fund for 2011-12 from the shortfall in priority sector lending by Scheduled Commercial Banks.
Mega Food Parks
65. Despite growing production of vegetables and fruits, their availability is inadequate due to bottlenecks in retailing capacity. An estimated 40 per cent of the fruit and vegetable production in India goes waste due to lack of storage, cold chain and transport infrastructure. To address these issues, the Eleventh Plan target for number of Mega Food Parks was set at 30. So far, 15 such parks have been sanctioned. During 2011-12, approval is being given to set up 15 more Mega Food Parks.
Storage Capacity and Cold Chains
66. The years 2008 to 2010 saw very high levels of foodgrain procurement. On January 1, 2011, the foodgrain stock in Central pool reached 470 lakh metric tonnes, 2.7 times higher than 174 lakh metric tonnes on January 1, 2007. The storage capacity for such large quantities requires augmentation. Process to create new storage capacity of 150 lakh metric tonnes through private entrepreneurs and warehousing corporations has been fast tracked. Decision to create 20 lakh metric tonnes of storage capacity under Public Entrepreneurs Guarantee (PEG) Scheme through modern silos has been taken. While we will be able to add about 2.6 lakh tonnes of capacity by March 2011, based on existing sanctions, the addition will reach 40 lakh tonnes by March 2012. During 2010-11, another 24 lakh metric tonnes of storage capacity has been created under the Rural Godown Scheme.
67. Investment in cold storage projects is now gaining momentum. During this year, 24 cold storage projects with a capacity of 1.4 lakh metric tonnes have been sanctioned under National Horticulture Mission. In addition, 107 cold storage projects with a capacity of over 5 lakh metric tonnes have been approved by the National Horticulture Board.
68. To attract investment in this sector, henceforth, capital investment in the creation of modern storage capacity will be eligible for viability gap funding scheme of the Finance Ministry. It is also proposed to recognize cold chains and post-harvest storage as an infrastructure sub-sector.
Agriculture Produce Marketing Act
69. The recent episode of inflation in vegetables and fruits has exposed serious flaws in our supply chains. The government regulated mandis sometimes prevent retailers from integrating their enterprises with the farmers. There is need for the State Governments to review and enforce a reformed Agriculture Produce Marketing Act urgently.
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