Mrs Nirmala Sitaraman presented the Budget 2021 in terms of six pillars. Agriculture and allied sectors, farmers’ welfare, rural India, migrant workers and labour, and financial inclusion were covered under the third pillar, i.e. Inclusive Development for Aspirational India.
The minister stated that the government is committed to the welfare of the farmers and that the MSP regime will assure a price that is at least 1.5 times the production cost across all commodities. FM shared that 43.46 lakh farmers have benefited from the payments in FY2020-21 in wheat at the cost of Rs.75,060 crore, while the number was 35.57 lakh farmers in FY2019-20 at Rs.62,802 crore. The numbers for paddy, pulses, and cotton farmers were also mentioned in the budget session.
Under the SWAMITVA scheme, property cards were distributed to about 1.80 lakh property owners across 1,241 villages early this year. The same will be extended to cover all states and union territories during the fiscal year 2021-22.
Further, the agricultural credit target has been set at Rs.16.5 lakh crore in FY22. The credit flow for animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries will also be considered. On the other hand, the allocation for rural infrastructure development fund has been raised from Rs.30,000 crore to Rs.40,000 crore. The corpus allocated for micro-irrigation fund is doubled from Rs.5,000 crore to Rs.10,000 crore.
The ‘Operation Green Scheme’ currently applicable to tomatoes, onions, and potatoes will now be applied to include 22 perishable products. For the infrastructure development of APMCs, the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund will be made available. In the context of the e-National Agriculture Market’s success, FM proposed to integrate 1,000 more mandis to the chain.
FM proposed to set up 5 major fishing harbours in Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Petuaghat, as a way to boost modern fishing harbours and fish landing centres. Inland fishing harbours and fish landing centres will also be set up along rivers and waterways.
Mrs Sitaraman mentioned that seaweed farming is an emerging sector for coastal communities. A multipurpose Seaweed Park will be set up in Tamil Nadu to promote the sector and create employment and additional income to the coastal communities.
Customs Duty and Cess
For the farmers’ benefit, the customs duty on cotton has been increased from 0% to 10%, and on raw silk and silk yarn, it is increased from 10% to 15%. To improve the agricultural infrastructure and enhance remuneration for farmers, an Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) will be introduced on a few items.
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