barCreated with sketchtool.
Interim Budget: New plans for food parks, self-sufficiency in oilseeds 
Feb 01, 2024 04:14 pm

 India will launch new plans and ramp up existing ones to build food parks and post-harvest facilities to boost farm incomes, apart from a drive to cut the country’s reliance on imports of cooking oil, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, presenting the Union Interim Budget for 2024-25 ahead of a general election in May. “The next five years will be years of unprecedented development and golden moments to realize the dream of developed India by 2047,” Sitharaman said, presenting her last budget in the current term to the thumping of desks. The Interim Budget allocated a total of ₹1.27 lakh crore for 2024-25 for the agriculture ministry, up from revised estimates of ₹1.16 lakh crore for 2023-24 and budget estimates of ₹1.15 lakh crore for 2023-24. “Efforts for value addition in agricultural sector and boosting farmers’ income will be stepped up,” the finance minister said. The finance minister said the government in the past 10 years had given direct financial assistance to 118 million farmers, under PM-Kisan Samman Yojana, a cash handout programme for every landholding agricultural family. Sitharaman said investments would be made in post-harvest activities including aggregation, modern storage, efficient supply chains, primary and secondary processing and marketing and branding. The government would expand the application of a novel fertilizer called Nano DAP to all agro-climatic zones and strategies would be activated to achieve ‘atmanirbharta’ (self-sufficiency) in oilseeds such as mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean, and sunflower, the finance minister said. “The sector is poised for inclusive, balanced, higher growth and productivity. These are facilitated from farmer-centric policies, income support, coverage of risks through price and insurance support, promotion of technologies and innovations through start-ups,” the finance minister said in her speech. Under the Modi government, agriculture has nearly clocked 4% growth. Latest advance estimates show farm GDP is estimated to grow a muted 1.8% in 2024-25, which comes on the back of a high base. The agriculture sector has been battered by extreme weather over the past two years, lowering supplies and stoking prices. This has prompted the government to ban the export of wheat, rice and onion, which some economists reckon has hurt farm incomes. Sitharaman said the Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Yojana had reached over 200,000 self-help groups and 60000 individuals with credit linkages. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, a scheme to boost fisheries, has benefitted 3.8 million farmers and generated over a million jobs. She also said the Electronic National Agriculture Market had linked 1361 markets and providing services to 180 million farmers with trading volume of ₹3 lakh crore. “These and the provision of basic necessities have enhanced real income in the rural areas. Their economic needs could be addressed, thus spurring growth and generating jobs,” Sitharaman said.