Agriculture, which contributes 14 per cent to the gross domestic product and employs 55 per cent of the population, got priority in the first Budget of the Narendra Modi government.
Flow of funds into agriculture is critical. The government has set a target of Rs 800,000 crore for agriculture credit during 2014/15. It has decided to continue the Interest Subvention Scheme and raise corpus of Rural Infrastructure Development Fund to Rs 25,000 crore.
The Warehouse Infrastructure Fund will get Rs 5,000 crore this year. This will help in reducing the wastage in the agriculture supply chain.
FULL COVERAGE:Union Budget
Farmers who make timely payments of their loan will get additional interest waiver of 3 per cent from the current 7 per cent.
Containing food inflation also seemed to be the focus with the government announcing Price Stabilization Fund of Rs 500 crore to mitigate the risk of price volatility in agricultural produce.
Agriculture gets impacted by inadequate rains as only 40 per cent of the country's area under agriculture is irrigated.
The Budget has announced an amount of Rs 1,000 crore for a new scheme called Pradhan Mantri Krishni Sinchayee Yojna. The move will help in lowering our dependence on monsoon.
Another area of concern in agriculture has been low productivity which is a result of low investment in research. The two institutions on the pattern of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, will be established in Assam and Jharkhand at an investment of Rs 100 crore. Agricultural Universities are proposed to be set up in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, besides two horticulture universities in Telangana and Haryana.
The Budget also talked about the government's intent to work closely with states to re-orient Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act. This is significant because it will help in development of farmers' markets and other marketing reforms. A farmer will not necessarily need to sell in a mandi and this will lower the costs of food products.
Information is power in today's world and the government has finally realised the need to empower the farmers with relevant information. The Rs 100 crore dedicated Kisan TV will ensure price, weather and related information to farmers and help them take timely decisions.