Kerala budget holds promise for farmers

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government in Kerala announced a series of agricultural schemes as Finance Minister K M Mani presented the 2014-15 budget for the state.

The budget, pegged to an expected growth rate of 8.58 per cent, envisaged the annual plan for 2014-15 with an outlay of Rs 20,000 crore. The finance minister, while making new allocations for welfare programmes, also hiked taxes and levies on alcohol, tobacco, textiles, motor vehicles and construction.

Mani’s 12th budget as finance minister has lined up many welfare programmes for farmers as part of the state’s priority schemes. Under the scheme – that will benefit farmers who own two hectares of agricultural land or less – the government will enter into agreements with insurance companies to insure 25 major crops. The list of measures also mentions a health insurance scheme for farmers who own two hectares or less (with the government bearing 50 per cent premium).

The government will provide free laptops for girl students from BPL families and families of small-scale farmers, who secure admission to professional courses.

Under a family welfare scheme, the government, in the event of the death of a farmer who owns a hectare of land or less, will repay half his bank debts of up to Rs 50,000. The budget allocates Rs 25 crore in connection with the scheme.

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