Budget boost for crisis-hit farm sector in Karnataka

Source : IANS
Author : IANS
Last Updated: Sat, Mar 7th, 2020, 14:01:47hrs
Budget boost for crisis-hit farm sector in Karnataka

Bengaluru:  The crisis-ridden agriculture sector in Karnataka got a budget boost with Rs 32,249 crore allocation for fiscal 2020-21, an official said on Friday.

"Agriculture remains the backbone of our rural economy as 60 per cent of the people depend on it and its allied sectors for a living though its contribution to the state gross domestic product (SGDP) is 3-4 per cent annually," a senior official told IANS here.

With drought and floods wreaking havoc over the years across the southern state, millions of farmers have been facing hardship, crop loss, poor returns and mounting debts, resulting in suicides and untold misery in the countryside.

"To mitigate hardship of farmers, ensure higher yields and returns, insure them against crop loss due to drought or flood and double their income by 2024, the budget has allotted huge amounts for soil improvement, water supply to fields, mechanical ploughing and harvesting, cold storages, minimum support price, direct access to market for domestic sales and exports," said the official.

Presenting the budget in the Assembly on Thursday, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa told the lawmakers that as agriculture was the basis for survival, others survive if only farmers survive.

"Agriculture, which is all pervasive, is the first occupation taken by man. Agriculture is the foundation for all professions. Trade, industry, commerce, manufacturing and services sustain if agriculture survives," said Yediyurappa quoting a Kannada adage.

Taking a leaf from the 2020-21 Union Budget, which allocated 9.5 per cent for the sector, Yediyurappa has earmarked huge amounts for farming, horticulture, food processing and allied sectors, especially irrigation projects to supply water to farmlands.

"On the Chief Minister's direction, we are drafting a new agriculture policy, with focus on water security, land bank, mass cultivation, micro irrigation farmers, processing of farm produce and marketing. The policy will also give agriculture and horticulture an industry status for more benefits and concessions," the official said.

Besides Rs 10,000 as annual financial aid, including Rs 6,000 from the Centre and Rs 4,000 from the state to small and marginal farmers, Kisan credit card will be provided to all farmers to prevent them from falling into debt trap of money lenders.

"A sum of Rs 900 crore has been allocated in the budget for crop loss due to drought, flood or adverse climate as the state's share in the Prime Minister's farm insurance scheme," the official said.

The state government will also encourage farmers to grow drought-resistant crops like millets, with Rs 10,000 incentive per hectare. It will be extended to grow Teff, Chia and Quinoa.

The Agriculture Department will provide chemically pre-processed and polymer smeared seeds to cut production cost and ensure higher germination.

"Under the new farm policy, mobile agriculture health clinics will be rolled out for soil and water testing in the agricultural filed and advising farmers on insecticides and diseases," noted the official.

To discourage use of chemicals, the budget has Rs 200 crore for promoting organic farming extensively across the state.

Farmers will be assisted in using water dissolvable fertilisers, micro nutrients and hydrogel to switch over to organic farming.

"For promoting horticulture and reduce the post-harvest loss, 10 more cold storages with 5,000 tonne capacity will be built under the public-private partnership in the agriculture produce markets across the state at a cost of Rs 75 crore," the official added.