No big-ticket plans for farm sector likely in budget

State cut up with Centre over possible cut in agri grants

No big-ticket plans for farm sector likely in budget

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will not be making any major announcements for the agriculture sector in the budget proposals for 2015-16, with the State keen on streamlining and implementing its existing programmes.

At the same time, the Centre’s decision to reduce allocations for Centrally sponsored schemes has come as a worry for the government.

“There may be not be many new schemes this time, but we are looking for consolidation of the programmes which have been announced in the last two years,” Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byregowda said.

During the previous two budgets, Siddaramaiah, who also holds the Finance portfolio, made several new proposals in the agriculture sector, with the ‘Krishibhagya scheme’ being the flagship programme.

Though announced in February last, the scheme, which proposes to achieve sustainable growth in agriculture in dry land zones through adoption of profitable cropping systems and cultivation of high income crops covering 23 districts, could take off only in December. The government had announced that the scheme would be implemented on a mission mode.

Another programme of opening service centres to facilitate availability of agriculture equipment to farmers on hire basis also took time to take shape. Siddaramaiah is now keen that the State’s programmes in general and agriculture in particular are stabilised as the government enters its third year in office. 

The minister pointed out that Krishibhagya scheme took time to become operational as the programme had to be launched after harvesting of crops. “We cannot operationalise the scheme when there are standing crops. Harvesting work has to be completed,” he said.

He said that the farm machinery centres where farmers could avail equipment on hire would be set up on a public-private partnership model. The model of the programme was completely new and not implemented anywhere in the country.

“Unlike other departments, agriculture is a seasonal activity and may not be in tune with the financial year. But, we have made substantial progress,” he claimed.
Byregowda expressed apprehension that the State would get lesser financial allocation from the Centre, following the cut in centrally aided schemes. 

 “It is a matter of concern as the cuts have been made especially in the agriculture sector. The sharing pattern which used to be 90 per cent by the Centre and 10 per cent by the State is likely to be changed to 50:50. The new sharing pattern has not been officially announced resulting in uncertainity on how much funds the State has to reserve for the sector,” he said.
 
Of the Rs 3,759-crore plan outlay for the agriculture sector in 2014-15, as much as Rs 600 crore was funded through Central grants.

The schemes which will be affected due to cut in grants include Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), which sought to achieve a growth rate of more than four per cent in agriculture and National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture, which sought to enhance agricultural productivity, especially in rain-fed areas.

For instance, under RKVY, last year the Centre had set aside Rs 8,444 crore, while this year it has been reduced to Rs 4,500 crore. This would result in reduced allocation to the State from Rs 800 crore to Rs 400 crore.

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