Hyderabad: Agriculture has emerged as the only sector to have withstood the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the State, achieving significant progress. Reflecting the vision of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, the State government has set aside over Rs 25,000 crore for the Agriculture sector including Rs 5,225 crore towards crop loan waiver in the State budget for 2021-22. The State government is all set to give an impetus to the Agriculture sector with emphasis on modern cultivation methods, farm mechanisation and market-driven production.
In his budget speech, Finance Minister T Harish Rao informed that the progressive measures of the State government to rejuvenate agriculture and allied sectors since the State formation had paid off as they played an important role even during the difficult times of Corona pandemic. He said the sector had been highly progressive and the annual cultivated area has increased from 1.41 crore acres in 2014-15 to 2.12 crore acres in 2020-21, registering over 49 per cent increase. Similarly, crop production has nearly doubled from 2.5 crore metric tonnes in 2014-15 to an estimated record production of 4.11 crore metric tonnes in 2020-21.
“The farmers in Telangana produced crops valued at Rs one lakh crore last year. The State also made significant progress in cotton cultivation and emerged as second largest cotton producing State in the country with cultivation in 60.54 lakh acres,” he said. The Minister added that Telangana supplied 64 lakh tonnes of paddy to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in 2020 Yasangi season, which is 56 per cent of the total paddy purchased by FCI.
Harish Rao stated that being a farmer himself, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has instilled self- confidence in farmers by introducing innovative programmes like Rythu Bandu, Rythu Bhima, etc. which received appreciation from the United Nations. The programmes introduced in Telangana have become role models for the entire country. He said the State government was spending Rs 10,500 crore to supply uninterrupted quality and free power supply to farmers. Besides ensuring timely supply of fertilisers and urea, the State government focused on the rejuvenation of the tanks and thereby the improvement of the ground water levels. At the same time, the construction of the irrigation projects is in full swing.
Incentives for cultivation of Oil Palm
To increase the farmers’ income, the State government has decided to promote cultivation of oil palm in 8.14 lakh acres in the State and accordingly prepared a comprehensive plan. To encourage farmers to take up its cultivation, the government will provide a subsidy of Rs 30,000 per acre and also took steps to ensure that the balance input cost is met through bank financing to lessen the immediate burden on the farmer. “India is now importing palm oil worth Rs.70,000 crore per year. By cultivating it, we will not only realise huge savings in foreign exchange, but also good returns for farmers for 30 years. The State government has formulated a comprehensive plan to provide farmers with all facilities required for the cultivation of oil palm,” he added.
Rythu Vedikalu and Drying Platforms
The State government constructed 2,601 Rythu Vedikas at a cost of Rs 572.22 crore to facilitate meetings among farmers to discuss common issues within six months period last year. During the 2021- 22 fiscal, the government will take up construction of drying platforms with Rs 750 crore to cater to the needs of one lakh farmers.
Farm Mechanisation and Food Processing Industry
Emphasising on the need for adopting new practices in agriculture in tune with the changing situation, the government decided to promote farm mechanisation. Accordingly, the government has decided to support the farmers financially to enable them to procure modern farm machinery and allocated Rs 1,500 crore to incentivise mechanisation. In the last five years, the State government provided subsidy of Rs 14,644 crore for farm mechanisation and also spent another Rs 951 crores to provide tractors, other farm machinery and tools. The government also decided to promote food processing units throughout the State. An in principle decision has been taken to promote these units through self help groups, which would not only improve income of farmers, but will also provide large scale employment in rural areas.
Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima
Both Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bima have turned out to be major pillars for the agriculture sector in the State. Launched in 2018, the Rythu Bandhu scheme has become a role model for the entire country. At present the government is providing Rs 10,000 per acre per annum covering two crop seasons. The State government has not stopped the assistance under Rythu Bandu despite the dwindling of State finance due to the Corona pandemic. Against Rs 14,736 crore spent during 2020-21 financial year, an estimated Rs 14,800 have been set aside for the scheme for 2021-22. About Rs 35,911 crore have been spent for the scheme over the last three fiscals benefiting 59.25 lakh farmers comprising about 90 per cent small and marginal farmers.
The State government had set aside another Rs 1,200 crore for Rythu Bima scheme in 2021-22 towards insurance premium providing Rs 5 lakh insurance cover to farmers. About Rs 1,141.4 crore were spent towards insurance premium in 2020-21 providing insurance cover to 32.73 lakh farmers. In the past three years, insurance amount of Rs 2,328 crore was paid to 46,564 families of farmers.
Development of Dairy Industry
Observing that the dairy development as crucial as agriculture for rural development, Harish Rao said the Telangana government transformed the dairy sector into a cash cow by providing necessary support to the cooperative dairies and providing incentive of Rs 5 per litre on milk purchased by these dairies. It had also revived the Telangana Vijaya Dairy by improving its operational efficiency. “The daily average milk procurement by the Telangana Vijaya Dairy has increased from 1.27 lakh litres in 2014 to 2.89 lakh litres this year. Similarly, the Vijaya Dairy which had debts amounting to Rs 30 crore after the State formation, is maintaining fixed deposits of Rs 58.5 crore. It has a turnover of Rs 676 crore,” he said. About Rs 1,730 crore allocated for the Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries department.
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