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Agriculture may get more money

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is keen on revving up the farm sector and may give out more money for agriculture in his first Budget, which he will present in the first week of July, writes Zia Haq.

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2009 01:11 IST
Zia Haq

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is keen on revving up the farm sector and may give out more money for agriculture in his first Budget, which he will present in the first week of July, sources have told Hindustan Times.

More money for agriculture means the government spends more on the farm sector to chase the agriculture GDP of the 4 per cent, a growth rate that has remained out of the government’s grasp.

India’s farm sector grew by 1.6 per cent during 2008-09, compared to 4.9 per cent in the previous year. In the last quarter, it had an improved performance of 2.7 per cent against 2.2 per cent in the corresponding quarter of 2007-08.

The finance ministry is working closely with the agriculture ministry for a slew of booster shots. Mukherjee’s priorities are food security and attracting investment to achieve 4 per cent farm growth.

A 4 per cent farm growth is necessary for overall 10 per cent GDP that the government is aiming for even as India crawls out of the slowdown, a person familiar with the developments said.

The allocation for the agriculture department in the last Budget was Rs 10510.34 crores. The total allocation for all farm-related departments, like fisheries, was Rs 14797.53 crores.

“Mukherjee said he wanted a quantum jump in agricultural growth,” farm activist P. Chengal Reddy quoted Mukherjee as saying.

Reddy was among a team of agricultural experts whom the finance ministry held consultations on Monday.

For food security, the Budget is likely to make provisions to provide 25 kg of cheap rice or wheat to people below the poverty line. This is one of the Congress’ poll promises and which agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is ready tokeep.

Among those Mukherjee was briefed on agriculture included food policy expert Ashok Gulati, Gopal Naik of IIM Bangalore and Mangla Rai, who heads the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.