Giving a major helping hand to the Indian Agriculture and the farmers in the Union Budget 2023-24 Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman stated that the agriculture credit target will be enhanced to Rs 20 lakh crores, The Budget’s estimates for 2023-24 for the agriculture ministry stood at ₹1.25 lakh crore,with special focus on animal husbandry, dairy, fisheries and moved aimed at providing higher farm loans at a subsidised rates.
She also stated that the Modi led government will establish an Agriculture. Accelerator Fund to boost agri-startups by aspiring entrepreneurs in rural areas. The fund’s goal will be to provide farmers with innovative and economical solutions to their problems.
It will also introduce cutting-edge technologies to improve agricultural operations and boost production and profitability.
The finance minister also stated that agricultural digital public infrastructure will be constructed as an open source, open standard, and interoperable public benefit.
“This will enable inclusive, farmer-centric solutions via relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance, crop estimation assistance, market intelligence, and support for the growth of the agri-tech industry and start-ups,” she added.
In terms of integrating technology and agriculture, Sitharaman stated that 63,000 Primary Agricultural Credit Societies are being computerized with Rs 2,516 crore investment. A national database is being developed for the mapping of cooperative organizations across the country.
A significant portion of the Union government’s spending comes from sources outside than the budget, which are known to as internal and extra-budgetary resources (IEBR). The resources raised by public sector units through profits, loans, and equity. In the Budget for the FY 2023-24, an IEBR provision of Rs 1.45 lakh crore has been provided for Food Corporation of India (FCI).
The government will also put in place a vast decentralized storage capacity to assist farmers in storing their products and obtaining higher rates for their output. Over the next five years, the government will make it easier to establish more coop societies, primary fishing organizations, and dairy coop societies in undeveloped villages.
To help farmers, the government will increase the cash deposit and lending ceiling to Rs 2 lakh per member for Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.
Farm loans typically have an interest rate of 9% pa. However, the government has been giving interest subsidies in order to make short-term crop loans available at a reasonable rate and increase farm output.
The government is offering a 2% interest subsidy to farmers who take up short-term farm loans of up to Rs. 3 lakh at an effective rate of 7% per annum.
Finally, the measures outlined in the Union Budget for FY 2023-24 for agriculture and infrastructure are a step in the right direction. It has the potential to enhance population income, country’s economy and eventually the GDP of the country. The government should be applauded for taking the lead in promoting digital public infrastructure as well as funding and subsidies for agriculture entrepreneurs.
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