Yet to brew confidence
By Pravash Pradhan, Editor :
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech in February 28, 2015 has candidly admitted that agriculture income in the country is under stress. It is one of the major challenges that the present NDA dispensation wants to address.
However, the growth of agriculture at a rate of 1.1 per cent in 2014-15 does not augur well; on the other hand agriculture absorbs more than 50 per cent of workforce in the country.
The government has identified two thrust areas like soil and water to improve agricultural production. National soil health card for farmers has been announced in this budget, but there is no clear-cut budgetary provision to execute it within a definite time frame.
‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ is declared in this budget. But the government understands well there is no good market for organic produces. How does government plan to provide a market linkage?
Only Rs 5300 crore is earmarked in the budget to support micro-irrigation, watershed development and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. Does the government have any plan how much areas are to be irrigated in this minuscule amount? As per the economic survey report 2015, about 35 per cent of lands are covered under irrigation.
Another major factor of distresses for farmers is market facility. The government intends to create Unified National Agriculture Market; however, there is no clarity when will it be made and how will it function. Agriculture is a state subject. Is the government mulling over to bring amendment to include agriculture in concurrent list?
There is a dearth of agricultural infrastructure in the country. Crop management is another serious problem farmers of the country are facing. Starting from pre-harvesting, crop management to post harvest (storage), expectations are high. A large scale investment is required in these areas to give a fillip to agriculture in the country.
In the given rate of growth, investors whether overseas or domestic will not be enthused to risk investment in agriculture sector, thereby eluding farmers ‘achhe din’.
The government re-emphasises its commitment for farmers. The policy decisions however are yet to bring any confidence among the farming community and traders.