Govt to make big investments in agriculture & allied farm sector


File photo of farmers planting paddy saplings in a field near Dhona, Bareilly. PTI

File photo of farmers planting paddy saplings in a field 

Aiming to double farmers’ income by 2022, the government on Friday said it will invest in a big way in developing infrastructure in both agriculture and allied farm sector, and encourage private entrepreneurs in food processing.

Presenting the Budget for 2019-20 fiscal, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government keeps “gaon, garib, aur kisan” at the centre of everything that it does. Both ‘ease of doing business’ and ‘ease of living’ should apply to farmers too.

“We will invest widely in agricultural infrastructure. We will support private entrepreneurship in driving value addition to farmers’ produce from the field and for those from allied activities, like bamboo and timber from the hedges and for generating renewable energy,” she said.

Stating that ‘annadata’ can also be ‘urjadata’, the minister said that dairying through cooperatives should also be encouraged by creating infrastructure for cattle feed manufacturing, milk procurement, processing and marketing.

To harness the potential in the fishery sector, the government proposed a Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) to establish a robust fisheries management framework and check gaps in the value chain.

“Fishing and fishermen communities are closely aligned with farming and are crucial to rural India…This (PMMSY) will address critical gaps in the value chain, including infrastructure, modernisation, traceability, production, productivity, post-harvest management, and quality control,” she added.

While appreciating the farmers for making India self-sufficient in the production of pulses, the Finance Minister said, “I am sure they will repeat such a success even in the production of oilseeds. Our import bill shall be reduced by their seva.”

She also proposed setting up of 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to ensure economies of scale for farmers over the next five years.

To ensure fair price to farmers, the minister said that the centre will work with state governments to allow farmers to benefit from electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) which was launched in 2016.

“The Agriculture Produce Marketing Cooperatives (APMC) Act should not hamper farmers from getting a fair price for their produce,” she said.

The minister also emphasised the need to replicate Zero Budget Farming, an innovative model, across the country saying farmers are already being trained in few states in this regard.

“Steps such as this can help in doubling our farmers’ income in time for our 75th year of independence,” she added.