By Pawan Kumar Sharma

The contribution of agriculture in Indian national income has declined from 36.4% in 1982-83 to 17.24% in 2018-19. However, agriculture remains a fundamental sector accounted for about 54.6% of employment in the country. So the Government has no other option but to focus on agriculture and rural economy in order to attain higher macroeconomic indicators at national level.

Inspite of agriculture being a state subject in India the states are heavily dependent upon central assistance to support agriculture. Therefore, the provisions for agriculture in Union budget are of extreme importance to enable farmers to achieve higher incomes.

The Union budget 2019-20 acknowledged farmers for their efforts in many instances and more so to entrust them with new responsibilities. The role of farmers is believed to be raised from Anna datta (Food provider) to Urja Datta (Energy provider). Women farmers were also acknowledged by quoting ‘Naari tu Narayaani’ in terms of developing women folks into successful entrepreneurs.

Some of the major takeaways for farming community include Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampda Yojana for modernization of fishery sector. The Department of Fishery entrusted with the responsibility of establishing robust fishery management framework after assessing critical gaps in value chain, including modernization, traceability, production, post harvest management and quality control.

The Scheme of Fund for Upgradation and Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) aimed at developing 100 clusters (bamboo, honey and khadi) in the year 2019-20, comprising of 50000 artisans. Under the scheme, common facilitation centres will be established to make village industries more productive, profitable and capable for generating sustainable employment.

Further, in order to improve the technology of such clusters, 18 livelihood business incubators and 20 technology business incubators are planned to setup in 2019-20 under the scheme for promotion of innovation, rural industry and entrepreneurship for development of 75000 skill entrepreneurs in agro-rural industry sector. Besides, ensuring investment in agricultural infrastructure, the budget advocated development of private entrepreneurship for managing value addition of farmers’ produce, including agriculture, bamboo, timber and renewable energy.

The role of cooperatives in dairy sector will be enhanced through infrastructural development for cattle feed manufacturing, milk processing and marketing.

The farmers were acknowledged for making the country self sufficient in pulses. The country’s annual production of pulses was 16.35 million tonnes in 2015-16 against the annual demand of 22 million tonnes. With the efforts of the farmers, India has achieved 22.14 million tonnes of pulses production in the year 2017-18.

However, again the farmers have been entrusted with the responsibility of making country’s self sufficient in oilseeds, for which the deficit at present stands at around 11 million tones and thus helps in reducing import bill of the country.

In order to bring in the economies of scale in agriculture, the target was setup to form 10,000 Farmers Producer organizations. The budget emphasized on extending the concept of Zero budget farming through implementation of schemes such as Parampragat Krishi Shiksha Yojana.

The agriculture & allied sector in the state of Jammu & Kashmir contributes about 19.46% of Gross State Domestic Product. In the budget 2016-17 of J&K, the state proposes an outlay of 15.38% and 6.91% of total revenue and capital expenditures respectively on agriculture.

How all the schemes introduced by central government can be implemented to cultivate maximum benefits for farmers and overall economy of Jammu & Kashmir is what the agricultural extension agencies in the state has to recognize well in advance e.g. the central government introduced the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) scheme, however the farmers in Kashmir still could not able to avail the benefits of scheme.

The farmers growing premier crops such as apple, saffron etc. have been denied the benefits of crop insurance scheme, inspite of several disasters witnessed in recent years. The policies like PMFBY need to be implemented in the state for developing confidence among farming community.

Similarly, the Scheme of Fund for Upgradation and Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) can prove to be very useful for artisans of Jammu & Kashmir and also for farmers for supplementing their farm incomes.

Of course, budget is not the only occasion to announce agricultural schemes for the welfare of farmers. Already, the Government has implemented Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi, a Central Sector scheme with 100% funding from Government of India. The scheme is visualized as an expression of honour to the farmers, not only for their efforts and contribution in nation building but for the sacrifice which their generations have made to protect the interests of the common consumers.

The PM Kisan scheme which was operationalized in 2018 to provide an income support of Rs.6000/- per year in three equal installments only to small (1-2 ha) and marginal (< 1 ha) farm families has already been extended to all the 14.5 crore farm families in the country.

The allocation of agricultural support under central budget is a key to agricultural growth. The attentiveness of budget towards agriculture is also required to make agriculture more competitive in globalized world. The policies must concentrate on resource poor farmers in disadvantaged areas for overall development of agricultural sector.

(The author is Scientist, Agricultural Economics KVK Kathua, SKUAST-Jammu (J&K) and can be contacted at pawanvatsya@gmail.com)

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