Jaitley announces major push in credit for farmers


NewDelhi, February 1: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday here announced Rs 10 lakh crore for agriculture credit for the current fiscal year.

Special efforts will be made to ensure adequate credit to “under served” regions like eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir, Jaitley said, presenting the Union Budget 2017-18 in the Lok Sabha.

Noting that about 40 per cent of the small farmers procure loans from cooperative structure, Jaitley said the government will support National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) for the computerisation and integration of its 63,000 “functional PSEs” with core banking support and financial cooperatives.

This integration will be done over three years at an estimated cost of Rs 9,800 crore with financial participation from the states.

“This will ensure seamless flow of credit to small and marginal farmers,” he added.

Jaitley also termed the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) as an important step in safeguarding farmers’ crops against natural calamities, and announced a coverage of 40 per cent for the current fiscal year, increased from 30 per cent in 2016-17.

The budget for the PMFBY has increased from Rs 5,500 crore last year to Rs 13,220 crore this year.

To help farmers know the quality of soil, Jaitley announced setting up of ‘mini-labs’ at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) and ensure 100 per cent coverage in all 648 KVKs across the country.

“Issuance of soil health cards has gathered momentum… Its real benefits would be available only when the soil samples are tested for quality,” he said.

The allocation for crop insurance has been increased to Rs 9,000 crore for the 2017-18 fiscal.

Presenting the 2017-18 Budget in the Lok Sabha, he said the Fasal Bima Yojana or crop insurance scheme launched by the central government had enabled the famers to feel secure against natural calamities.

“The Budget provision of Rs 5,500 crore for this Yojana in Budget Estates 2016-17 was increased to Rs 13,240 crore in the Revised Estimates for 2016-17 to settle the arrear claims. For 2017-18, I have provided Rs 9,000 crore,” Jaitley said

The Finance Minister also provisioned for 100 such mini-labs developed by local qualified entrepreneurs who will be subsidised by the government.

A 100 per cent increase in the irrigation fund was also announced at Rs 40,000 crore, from earlier Rs 20,000 crore.

Jaitley promised a dedicated micro-irrigation fund to achieve the goal of ‘Per Drop More Crop’ with an initial corpus of Rs 5,000 crore.


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