Naveen woos farmers: Free cellphones, easy loan
With an eye on next year's polls, the Naveen Patnaik government Tuesday presented a Rs 60303.09 crore farmer-friendly budget, with offer of free cellphones, easy crop loan and health insurance to farmers and a Rs 1500 a month stipend to youths in rural areas for social development.
The total budget outlay size increased by 16 per cent compared to last year.
For the first time, the state presented a separate agriculture budget of Rs 7161.84 crore. Only Karnataka has so far presented a separate agriculture budget.
Presenting the budgets, Finance Minister Prasanna Acharya said problems like lack of investment, appropriate technology, partnership and recurrence of natural calamities were hindering growth of agriculture which now constituted less than one-third of the state's GDP. "Despite various initiatives taken and substantial increases in allocation made in various schemes, their impact is not visible because the focussed attention on comprehensive strengthening of agriculture sector was lacking," Acharya said.
To help the farmers get better price for their produce under the Digital Mandi Scheme, the state would now provide free cellphones to 20,000 farmers who have registered themselves under the scheme. Interest subvention of 5 per cent would be given for facilitating disbursement of crop loans by commecial banks and RRBs. Besides, the state would make agricultural term loans cheaper from existing 10-14 per cent to less than 7 per cent through interest subvention.
In the Budget, Rs 1312.5 crore has been provided for Rs 1 a kg rice scheme.
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