VIJAYAWADA: Giving top priority to agriculture and its allied sectors with focus on farmer welfare, the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government has presented an agriculture budget with an outlay of Rs 29,159.97 crore. The budgetary allocations for 2020-21 were Rs 293.04 crore higher than the previous fiscal. “Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy and taking care of farmers is our top priority. As the Chief Minister said, our government is bringing in reforms to ensure long-term benefits to the community,” said Agriculture Minister Kurasala Kannababu, who presented the Agriculture Budget for 2020-21 in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
As much as Rs 6,885 crore was earmarked to provide investment support to the farmers during the commencement of cropping seasons under YSR Rythu Bharosa-PM Kisan. In the last fiscal, Rs 6,534.07 crore was spent under the programme, which benefitted 46.69 lakh farmer families. Like in the previous budget, Rs 3,000 crore was allocated for Price Stabilisation Fund and Rs 2,000 crore for calamity fund. At the time when harvesting commenced for Rabi season, farmers faced a crisis in the form of coronavirus pandemic and nationwide lockdown.
“With the help of Price Stabilisation Fund, the government was able to procure various crops, including perishable produce, to help the farmers. For the first time, we adopted a ‘farmgate’ policy to procure food grains at farms itself,” Kannababu said and added that the government was focusing more on agriculture marketing by introducing a new procurement policy and Janata Bazar.
The 10,641 Rythu Bharosa Kendras, launched recently to revolutionise farm and village economies, were allocated Rs 100 crore. As promised, interest-free loans were being extended to farmers and Rs 1,100 crore was allocated this fiscal. “Seeds are the basis of crops and we have introduced new reforms to ensure supply of quality seeds at the farmers’ doorstep; Rs 200 crore has been allocated for the purpose,” the Agriculture Minister said.
Apart from allocating Rs 15,399.52 crore for agriculture, another Rs 653.02 crore was earmarked for horticulture, Rs 92.18 crore for sericulture, Rs 854.77 crore for animal husbandry, Rs 299.27 crore for fisheries, Rs 248.38 crore for cooperative sector and Rs 4,450 crore for free power to farm sector. However, the allocations for horticulture, animal husbandry and fisheries were considerably less compared to last fiscal.
“It looks good on paper, but how effectively will it be implemented, given the lack of fund flow from the Centre? Were the horticulture farmers, who suffered during the corona crisis, given any insurance? I hope that the government keeps its promises,” said former agriculture minister Vadde Sobhanadreeswara Rao.