Government is working on a new agriculture insurance scheme to ensure farmers are not left at the mercy of rains; Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday, even as he hoped “rain gods will be kinder this year” and helps check the prices of pulses and other food products.
He also expressed confidence that the economy is moving on an accelerated growth trajectory, while higher tax revenues, improving macroeconomic fundamentals and on-going reforms make 8-10 per cent growth “eminently achievable”.
Monsoon was above normal in June with 25 per cent excess rainfall despite a late arrival as well as a drought-like prediction and the rest of the monsoon may also be good, he said.
“It appears that the rain gods may be kinder this year to us. The farm department has informed me that with better rainfalls in most parts of the country, even for pulses, which at the moment are a cause of concern, productivity is likely to be much higher this year”, he said.
Speaking at the Nabard Foundation Day function, Jaitley said the “silver lining” is that revenue collection situation is expected to be more comfortable than last year.
He said with the on-going reform process, proposed GST, increased infrastructure investment and emphasis on smart cities, 8-10 per cent GDP growth is very much “in the sight”.
Allaying fears of any poor monsoon-driven troubles for the farmers and the consumers, Jaitley said the government has taken a number of initiatives, including the recently announced Rs 50,000 crore programmes for a national irrigation.
Promising more sustainable measures for the farm sector so that the farmers are not left to the mercy of rain gods, Jaitley said “hopefully, in the near future, a viable and vibrant insurance scheme will be in place for farmers.
The new agriculture insurance scheme will cover all the inputs put by a farmer into his farm as also the loans taken by him.
“Dr Ashok Gulati (Infosys Chair Professor for Agricultureat Icrier) just now made a very valuable presentation to the Finance Ministry where he came out with a doable and effective insurance programme, wherein the farmer is able to at least recover the basic inputs that he puts in, in the events of uncertainties created by more than one reasons,” Jaitley said.
The present crop insurance schemes cover only the loans which a farmer has taken from banks.
“With productivity levels reasonably low and 85 per cent farmers being small and marginal, the agriculture sector is afflicted by higher input costs, low level of irrigation, high indebtedness, absence of an effective insurance mechanism and adverse impacts of climate change,” he said.