Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman while presenting the Union Budget for the year 2020-21 on Saturday said that the budget is woven around three prominent themes, namely - aspirational India, caring society and economic development. She reiterated that the NDA government is committed to doubling farmers' income by 2022. The Finance Minister revealed her 16-point action point to help boost the Agriculture sector.
As a part of the 16-point programme, the Finance Minister said, "To build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, the Indian Railways will set up Kisan Rail through the PPP (public-private partnership) model so that perishable goods can be transported quickly," Added to this is Krishi Udan by the Ministry of Civil Aviation on international and national routes. This will immensely help improve value realization especially North-East India and tribal areas."
She also said refrigerated parcel vans on select mail express and freight trains for carrying perishable cargo was also on the anvil. Perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, fish, meat need to be carried in such temperature-controlled vans in order to travel long distances. The proposal to use refrigerated parcel vans to ferry perishables was first announced by then railway minister Mamata Banerjee in the 2009-10 Budget, however, it has failed to take off.
She stated that the Horticulture point is a very important point. She said, "Horticulture exceeds the production of foodgrains. The high focus will be one product in one district as far as the horticulture sector is concerned. Zero budget natural farming will be operationalised and thrust will be on the organic farmer."
Other pointers included expansion of PM KUSUM Scheme, which reduces dependence on diesel and kerosene and increases reliance on social energy. "Annadata can be Urjadata too," FM said. She also added that a total of 20 lakh farmers can set up standalone solar pumps. Further, she said that the government can help 15 lakh solarise grid-connected pump sets. "Farmers can also use barren land for solar energy and have a livelihood out of it," said the Finance Minister.
The Finance Minister said, "NBFCs and cooperatives are active in agriculture lending. NABARD refinance scheme will be expanded. Agri credit target for 2020-21 has been proposed at Rs 15 lakh crore."
This year's Budget assumes tremendous significance as the Indian economy is facing multiple challenges such as a rise in inflation, unemployment, farmer distress and a dip in GDP growth. While beginning her Budget speech, the Finance Minister had said that the focus would be on increasing incomes and elevating purchasing power.
In its Economic Survey 2020 released on Friday, the Union government predicted that the economic growth would pick up to 6.0% to 6.5% in the fiscal year beginning April 1, but warned that it may have to exceed its deficit target to revive growth.