Announcing a ₹500 crore Operation Green for the development of the agricultural sector Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has reinforced the focus of the government in increasing the income of farmers and raising the minimum support price.
Presenting the Union Budget for the fiscal year 2018-19, the minister proposed an Agri-Market Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 2000 crore and the upgradation of rural haats to Grameen agricultural markets. In increasing the Minimum Support Price of all cropsto at least 1.5 times that of the production cost, he promised the full support of the government in ensuring the payment of full MSP even if farmers sell below MSP. He proposed the introduction of Kishan credit cards.
Mr Jaitley also announced the linking of the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) with the electronic trading portal ENAM. The government will set up 22,000 Gramin agricultural markets. The budget also envisages the development of organic farming by providing the necessary encouragement to farmer-producer organisations, rural-producer organisation and women self-help groups will be encouraged. He announced a favourable taxation policy for farmer production companies by allowing a 100% deduction these registered companies having Rs 100 crore as turnover irrespective of profit.
There has also been a proposal to liberalise export of agricultural products. The minister expressed his optimism regarding the potential of the agricultural exports to reach $100 billion against the current figure of $30 billion. The budget allocates ₹1,290 crore for the development of the bamboo production sector under a restructured national bamboo mission.
“My government is committed to the welfare of farmers… My prime minister gave the clarion call to double farmers’ incomes by 2022. We consider agriculture to be an enterprise and want farmers to produce more on the same land and also get better returns from their produce,” Mr Jaitley said.