Monsoon and Agriculture (When will Indian agriculture sector gets an industrial status?- a representational picture)
Traders warn the country will soon be a net buyer of some key commodities for the first time in years. In Picture: Representational Image.Reuters

Giving impetus to India's agriculture sector, on which most of its population depends for livelihood, the Narendra Modi-led Union government will set up an Agri-Tech Infrastructure Fund of ₹100 crore and establish two major institutions in the sector in Assam and Jharkhand with an initial investment of ₹100.

This has been proposed in the recent union budget. It is also proposed to establish agriculture universities in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan and Horticulture Universities in Telangana and Haryana. An initial sum of ₹200 crore has been allocated for this purpose.

Deteriorating soil health has been a cause of concern and leads to sub optimal utilization of farming resources.

The government will initiate a scheme to provide to every farmer a soil health card in a Mission mode. ₹100 crore has been kept for this purpose and an additional ₹56 crore to set up 100 Mobile Soil Testing Laboratories across the country.

Centre's measures to aid farmers to get loans, right prices

As a very large number of landless farmers are unable to provide land title as guarantee, institutional finance is denied to them and they become vulnerable to money lenders' usurious lending. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed to provide finance to ₹lakh joint farming groups of "Bhoomi Heen Kisan" through NABARD in the current financial year.

Price volatility in agriculture creates uncertainties and hardships for the farmers. To mitigate this, a sum of ₹500 crore has been provided for establishing a Price Stabilization Fund.

The farmers and consumers' interest will be further served by increasing competition and integrating markets across the country. To accelerate setting up of a National Market, the Central government will work closely with the state governments to re-orient their respective APMC Acts., to provide for establishment of private market yards/private markets. The state governments will also be encouraged to develop Farmers' Markets in town areas to enable the farmers to sell their produce directly.

The issue of profitability of small holding based agriculture has assumed importance in view of increasing proportion of small and marginal farmers in the country.

A target of ₹8 lakh crore has been set by the government for agriculture credit during 2014-15.

"I propose to supplement NABARD's Producers' organization development fund for Producer's development and upliftment called PRODUCE with a sum of Rs 200 crore which will be utilized for building 2,000 producers organizations across the country over the next two years," Jaitley said.

The minister added that the government will bring technology-driven second revolution in agriculture sector in the country to achieve higher productivity. Launching Kisan TV at a cost of ₹100 crore is included in the other measures of the government to improve the condition of agriculture sector in the country.

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