he Union Budget 2019-20 has several goodies for farmers and the farm sector. The allocation for agriculture and allied activities has been increased substantially from the 2018-19 budget estimate of Rs 63,836 crore and revised estimate of Rs 86,602 crore to Rs 1,51,518 crore in 2019-20. Similarly, the allocation for rural development, which also affects farmers’ life, has increased from Rs 1,38,097 crore of budget estimate and Rs 1,35,109 crore of revised estimate in 2018-19 to Rs 1,40,762 crore in 2019-20.
The proposed outlay for Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana has been hiked from Rs 8,251 crore in 2018-19 (RE) to Rs 9,682 crore in 2019-20 (BE). The allocation under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has been increased from Rs 13,976 crore (RE) in 2018-19 to Rs 14,000 crore in 2019-20. The PMFBY presently covers the risk of only 28 per cent of cropped area and 27 per cent of farmers in the country.
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However, the increase in the outlay under important heads such as PMKSY and PMFBY does not appear to be adequate in view of the recent decision by the government to increase area under irrigation and also ensure risk mitigation. But the allocation of Rs 75,000 crore for PM Kisan Yojana will provide great relief to the farmers, especially in drought-prone areas.
On the positive side, the launch of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana will give a boost to the development of the fisheries sector. This will address the critical gaps in the value chain, including infrastructure, modernisation, post-harvest management and quality control.
Besides, the budget shows its commitment to promoting about 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organisations in the next five years to ensure economies of scale for farmers. Furthermore, the Union govt will work closely with state governments to enable farmers to benefit from e-NAM. Last but not the least, the budget mentions zero-budget farming, which will help in reducing farmers’ cost of production, increase incomes and promote sustainable agriculture.
To conclude, despite a substantial increase in the budgetary allocation for agriculture and allied activities as well as rural development this year, the needs of several sub-sectors have not been adequately taken care of. The much talked about diversification in favour of high-value crops, livestock, fisheries and non-farm business therefore, may not fructify.