Boost for agriculture sector, assistance to set up solar pumps

New Delhi, Feb 1:

The government has pegged the agricultural credit target at Rs 15 lakh crore for fiscal 2020-21, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said .

The government has asked states to adopt three central model laws on agricultural land leasing, marketing and contract farming, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said .

Presenting the Budget for 2020-21, Sitharaman said farmers will be be allowed to set up solar units on barren/fallow lands and supply power to grids.

The finance minister further said 20 lakh farmers will be provided funds for setting up standalone solar pumps.

The government has also proposed a comprehensive measure for 100 water stressed districts, she added.

Besides, the Centre also proposes plans to help farmers use proper manure and little water and encourage balanced use of fertilisers, the minister said.

Balanced use of fertiliser will bring about change in prevailing regime of providing incentive for use of chemical fertiliser, Sitharaman said.

The finance minister also said that Food Corporation of India and Warehousing Corporation of India to build warehousing facility on their land.

She said NABARD will map and geo-tab 162 million tonne capacity agri-warehouses across the country.

Viability gap funding will be provided to set up warehouses for agri products.

Nirmala Sitharaman also announced expansion of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha Utthan Mahabhiyan (PM KUSUM) Scheme under which 20 lakh farmers would be provided funds to set up standalone solar pumps.

While presenting the budget for 2020-21, the minister said that 15 lakh farmers would be provided funds to set up grid-connected 15 lakh solar pumps.

The previous Modi government in February last year had unveiled the PM KUSUM scheme with an outlay of Rs 34,422 crore.

Sitharaman told the Lok Sabha that the scheme has removed farmers” dependence on diesel and kerosene and linked them to solar energy. The scheme also enables the farmers to set up solar power generation capacity and sell it to the grid.

She stressed that farmers would be able to earn livelihood through their baron land also (by generating solar power on that).

The PM KUSUM scheme had three components — 10,000 megawatts (MW) of decentralised ground mounted grid-connected renewable power plants (Component-A); installation of 17.50 lakh standalone solar powered agriculture pumps (Component-B); and solarisation of 10 lakh grid-connected solar powered agriculture pumps (Component-C).

All three components combined, the scheme had aimed to add a solar capacity of 25,750 MW by 2022.

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