Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday promised farmers an increase in the minimum support price to 1.5 times the production cost of crops. In his Budget speech, Jaitley said the agricultural sector and farmers’ income are a major priority for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.
This is the government’s last full-year budget before the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for the summer of 2019. In its manifesto before the 2014 general elections, the BJP had promised to double the farming income during its five-year tenure at the Centre.
Jaitley said the government had earlier declared a minimum support price for the majority of rabi crops at least at 1.5 times the cost of production. “We have decided to implement this resolution as a principle for the rest of crops,” he said in the Budget. “The government has decided to keep the MSP for the all unannounced crops of kharif at least at one and a half times their production cost. I am confident that this historic decision will prove an important step towards doubling the income of our farmers.”
The Centre will create an institutional mechanism involving all the ministries concerned to ensure that farmers will get a better price for their produce, Jaitley said. He proposed a Rs 500 crore budget allocation for the government’s “Operation Green”.
“We have taken up programmes to direct the benefits of structural reforms and good growth to reach the farmers, poor and other vulnerable sections of the society and uplift the underdeveloped regions,” Jaitley said. “This year’s budget will consolidate these aims and particularly focus on strengthening agriculture and rural economy.”
The finance minister also proposed setting up an agri-market development fund with a corpus of Rs 2,000 crore to improve agricultural markets. India’s agriculture export potential is $100 billion (nearly Rs 6.38 lakh crore) as against today’s $30 billion (around Rs 1.91 lakh crore), said Jaitley. The Centre will liberalise exports of farm commodities soon.