Focus on farmers in Maharashtra budget

Mumbai, March 18 (IANS) Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Friday presented a rural-friendly budget for 2016-2017, at the same time sparing other sections of any major tax burden.

Declaring 2016 as ‘Shetkari Swabhiman Varsh’, Mungantiwar announced a significantly higher allocation of Rs.25,000 crore for various schemes in the agriculture sector to tackle repeated droughts and other natural calamities.

“The farming community comprises the backbone of rural economy; self-dependent farmers and prosperous villages are the foundation of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Hence, not their survival but their prosperity is essential for strengthening and empowering the state economy,” Mungantiwar said.

Accordingly, he stressed on the accelerated development of infrastructure, removal of disparities, emphasis on ‘dry land’ farming, development of urban areas and generating employment opportunities for the youth.

He announced substantially higher outlay of Rs.1,855 crore for crop insurance, Rs.2,000 crore for development of 100,000 farm ponds, 37,500 wells and 90,000 electric pumps for the farmers.

Mungantiwar announced new schemes of ‘Palak Mantri Pandhan Rasta Yojana’ and ‘Palak Mantri Earth Moving Machine Kharedi Yojana’ and said that repair work of rural roads would be given to rural youth.

On the agriculture front, the minister announced Rs.110 crore for crop loans at concessional rates, Rs.80 crore under National Agriculture Development Scheme to boost oilseeds and pulses’ production, 25 percent or upto Rs.50 lakh subsidy to set up agro-processing units, Rs.60 crore under the ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Krishi Margdarshan Yojana’ for promoting agriculture and research.

Two new veterinary colleges were announced at Jalgaon and Akola with an outlay of Rs. 10 crore; a new scheme ‘Krishi Gurukul Yojana’ to impart advanced agriculture training of farmers through ‘role-model farmers’ was also unveiled.

Mungantiwar said an agricultural festival will be organised in every district to create awareness among farmers, while departments would be set up in four agriculture universities for organic farming research and training centres to promote organic farming.

The minister announced projects for animal husbandry, including a manufacturing company of farmers in Vidarbha and Marathwada, intensive poultry development units in 14 districts, modernised cattle-rearing at ‘Valu Mata Sangopan Kendra’, ‘Govardhan Gowansh Raksha Kendra’ for rearing non-lactating and unproductive cattle breeds in 34 rural districts, Rs.30 crore to construct jetties at five points in the coastal districts.

A provision of Rs.7,850 crore has been made for seven irrigation projects, including Rs.2,078 under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, water literacy and water awareness creation in society, permanent water centres at Yashada in Pune and sub-centre at Aurangabad, Amravati and Chandrapur.

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