Stressing on the need for more investments in the farm sector, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the incentive structure of the agriculture sector should be revisited to address the challenges being faced by the sector and boost productivity.
Speaking at the first pre-budget consultative meeting with the representatives of agriculture groups, Jaitley said the performance of agriculture sector in three out of the last four years has not been good mainly due to inadequate monsoon.
Farmer groups and agriculture experts today asked the government to provide loans of up to Rs 5 lakh to all farmers at 4 per cent interest rate and sought higher MSP, increased coverage of crop insurance and consistent export policy.
Fertiliser body FAI sought introduction of direct transfer of urea subsidy to farmers and higher budget allocation for next three years to clear arrears of Rs 50,000 crore.
“The key challenges faced by the Indian agriculture are the need to increase productivity by leveraging technology-especially for high yielding and resistant variety seeds and efficient utilisation of water, adapt latest IT to increase resilience to nature by phasing sowing, watering and harvesting and to increase the price benefits to the farmer by providing timely market information,” Jaitley said.
“These challenges can be addressed by revisiting the incentive structure of farming, using latest technology to raise productivity, reduce wastages and enhance earnings as well as to improve marketing of farm produce”.
“There is a need for more investment in agriculture sector,” he said in an official statement.
As per the estimates of GDP for the second quarter of this fiscal, Jaitley said the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector grew by 2.2 per cent compared to 2.1 per cent in the corresponding period of 2014-15.
Briefing the media after two-hour long meeting, Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA) Secretary General B D Rami Reddy said: “At present, farmers’ situation is very bad. Government is only talking but not taking adequate action.”
CIFA demanded that all farmers and tenant farmers should be provided loan of up to Rs 5 lakh at 4 per cent interest.
Bharat Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar sought to “double the number of farmers receiving loans up to Rs 2 lakh and for that charge only 1 per cent interest.”
According to the participants, the Finance Minister said the government attaches the highest importance to the farm sector which is facing troubles.
Besides CIFA and BKS, representatives of National Dairy Development Board, fertiliser cooperative IFFCO, Fertiliser Association of India, United Planters’ Association of Southern India, Raju Shetty from Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and two scientists were among those present at the meeting.