New schemes to improve production of millets, paddy

Under Raitha Siri, an assistance of Rs 10,000 per hectare will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of farmers growing minor millets. DH File Photo

By deciding to give more impetus to the cooperative and irrigation sectors this year, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, left with little wriggle room, has chosen to prune the budget allocation towards the agriculture and horticulture sectors.

Like last year, Kumaraswamy has given 3% of the gross allocation towards these sectors. This year, however, he has slashed the budget to these two sectors by Rs 600 crore.

While he’d allocated Rs 7,642 crore towards Agriculture and Horticulture in 2018-19, Kumaraswamy has allocated Rs 7,042 crore for the current year.

The chief minister has however announced two new schemes - Raitha Siri and Karavali Package, which he hopes will spur the production of minor millets and paddy, respectively. He said that he has formulated programmes under these sectors with the primary objective of addressing fall in crop yield and skewed pricing for agricultural produce.

Under Raitha Siri, encouragement will be given to growers of minor millets by increasing the area under cultivation to 10,000 hectare. An assistance of Rs 10,000 per hectare will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of farmers growing the crop. A grant of Rs 10 crore has been set aside for this.

To address the decline in paddy yield and cultivation area in the recent years in coastal and Malnad districts (which get heavy rainfall), the chief minister has proposed to provide assistance of Rs 7,500 per hectare to motivate farmers to cultivate the crop under the scheme called Karavali Package. Kumaraswamy has set aside a grant of Rs 5 crore for this.

Kumaraswamy, who has allocated an additional Rs 145 crore to give impetus to the Israel model of micro irrigation system, envisaged in 2018-19, has also given a push to a scheme evolved by his father and former prime minister, H D Deve Gowda.

Gowda had propagated drip irrigation throughout the country for all crops by providing 90% subsidy for all classes of farmers through “Mukhyamanthrigala Sookshma Neeravari Yojane.” Kumaraswamy has provided Rs 368 crore to give more encouragement to this scheme.

Claiming that the Centre has stopped grants for watershed development programmes, Kumaraswamy said that there was need to implement drought proofing watershed activities to conserve the watershed area. The project, which will be implemented between 2019-2024, has received a grant of Rs 100 crore for the current year.

Kumaraswamy also slammed the Centre for its ineffective implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). “The scheme seems to have benefited the insurance companies more than the farmers. Many farmer leaders have expressed this view in the meetings. In this background, our government has proposed to consider the pros and cons of implementing a new crop insurance scheme,” he added.

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