In his Budget speech, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set the target for Soil Health Card Scheme coverage to 14 crore farm holdings by March 2017. This will help farmers make judicious use of fertilizer. He said that 2000 model retail outlets of fertilizer companies will be provided with soil and seed testing facilities in the next three years. To take advantage of technology to examine soil and its nutrient content, a Rs368 crore soil health facility will be set up, Jaitley said.
The FM has also announced 'Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana' for bringing 5 lakh acres of rain fed areas under organic farming. He launched a scheme 'organic value chain development in North East Region' to make their organic produce find domestic and export markets. Number of pulses districts under National Food Security Mission has been increased to 622.
In the case of natural calamities, a timely flow of credit to farmers is essential and Jaitley announced the setting up of a Rs9 lakh crore credit line, which is the highest ever. To reduce the burden of loan payment, Rs15,000 crore will be set aside towards interest subvention, Jaitley added.
Jaitley also announced that a Unified Agricultural Marketing E Platform will be dedicated to the nation on the birthday of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar on 14th April, this year. He also said that the completion target of 'Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana' will be advanced from 2021 to 2019, to connect the remaining 65,000 eligible habitations.
The minister announced three specific initiatives to ensure minimum support price reaches to all the farmers. First, the remaining state will be encouraged to take-up decentralised procurement. Second, an online procurement system will be undertaken through the Food Corporation of India. Third, effective arrangements will be made for pulses procurement.
Also, Rs2.87 lakh crore has been allocated as Grants in Aid to Gram Panchayats and Municipalities (228 per cent increase compared to previous five years) as per the recommendations of 14th Finance Commission. Every block in the areas of drought and rural distress will be taken up under Deen Dayal Antyodaya Mission. These districts would also be taken up for priority under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana.
Jaitley said that out of 141 million hectares of net cultivated area, only about 65 million hectares are irrigated. In this regard, he announced Pradhan Mantri Sinchai Yojana, to be implemented in a mission mode to bring another 28.5 lakh hectares under irrigation. He said that 89 projects under AIBP will be fast tracked which will help to irrigate another 80.6 lakh hectare. He promised to complete 23 of these projects before March 31, 2017. These projects require Rs7,000 crore next year and Rs86,500 crore in the next five years.
A dedicated long-term irrigation fund in NABARD will be created with an initial corpus of Rs20,000 crore. A similar progrmme for sustainable management of ground water resources, with an estimated cost of Rs6,000 crore has been proposed for multilateral funding. He also said that allocations under MGNREGA will be used for creating atleast 5 lakh farm pond and dug wells in rain fed areas and 10 lakh compost pits for organic manure production.