Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Agriculture Budget tabled today in State Assembly delivered a big shocker when the farmer unrest is making headlines in the country.
Despite the State Agriculture sector in the State having been contracted by a massive 6.54 per cent in the current financial year of 2020-21, the allocation for the year 2021-22 saw a big slashing by over 9 per cent to amount at Rs 17,468 crore.
While the allocation under the State government’s much-touted KALIA scheme pruned for the second consecutive year by a massive over 43 per cent to a total of Rs 1,800 crore for 2021-22, there seems to be no quantum hike in the outlays for other farming schemes.
Consider the hard numbers:
- In 2021-22, the allocation for the scheme ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikash Yojana slashed to Rs 35 from Rs 40 crore in 2020-21.
- There has been no rise announced for a revolving fund for seed and fertilisers. Both the critical farm inputs have been provisioned with a sum of Rs 100 crore each in 2021-22. The provisions were the same in 2020-21.
- Even in the arena of agricultural research, the allocated has been cut by Rs 2 crore to a total of Rs 148 crore.
- No increase in the amount of Rs 60 crore allocated for the farmer producer organisations in the year 2020-21.
- Allocation under National Horticulture Mission (NHM) down by Rs 3 crore to touch Rs 120 crore in 2021-22.
- The big let-down in the farm budget is ignoring the highly important farm extension services in the State
- Funds under PMFBY (Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana) slashed by Rs 200 crore. The allocation for the year 2021-22 stood at Rs 500 crore.
- Nil allocation has been made for the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) at the district level that operationalises the extension reforms in the farm sector. In the last budget, a sum of Rs 150 crore was allocated.
- How the farm extension services are important: During the year 2017, hectares of crops were destroyed by BPH worm of locally known as Chakada pest. An OUAT report had then highlighted how poor agri extension services at the village level created a man-made disaster in the State.
- No allocation made in the budget for quick payment to farmers whose produces is to be procured in Mandis at MSP. Last year the budget had allocated Rs 12,000 crore.
- Farm credit target for the cooperative banks fixed at Rs 16,000 crore, up by Rs 1k crore from 2020-21 (thus shows no massive rise in farm credit in the State)
- However, the outlay for the interest subsidy/subvention scheme under the farm credit hiked to Rs 819 crore from Rs 705 crore last year.
However, the only hefty allocation made in the budget has been Rs 450 crore for the centrally sponsored scheme Rashtriya Krishi Vikash Yojana (RKVY).
Lone Bright Spot: A total hike of Rs 128 crore proposed for subsidy on capital investment for the establishment of commercial agri-enterprises and for the popularization of agricultural implements and diesel pump sets.
WHAT IS MISSING IN BUDGET?
In Odisha, farmers are saddled with getting marginal net returns on their agri produces. And for that, they need an increase in capacity of warehousing facilities, crop diversification and steps to boost the yield per hectare.
But the budget didn’t provide any investment roadmap for augmenting the most essentials like warehousing, crop diversification and crop productivity in the State.
The Bottom Line: The budget has apparently failed to boost investment in the farm sector in Odisha, which has borne the pandemic shock quite acutely.