Kerala Budget thinks big for agriculture

Loans amounting to ₹2,000 crore to be provided for boosting infrastructure

Loans amounting to ₹2,000 crore will be provided during 2021-22 for boosting agriculture infrastructure in the State, Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal has said.

Under the Cooperative Initiative for Agriculture Infrastructure in Kerala (CAIK), NABARD loan schemes for primary cooperatives at 4% interest will be made available through the Kerala Bank for infrastructure rejuvenation. The idea is to boost capital formation in the sector for creating local markets, warehouses, cold chain facilities, and processing centres for fruits such as pineapple, banana and mango, Mr. Balagopal says, presenting the revised Budget for the 2021-22 fiscal.

The budget has allocated ₹10 crore for the preliminary expenses of modernising the Agriculture Department for attracting youth to the farm sector and guaranteeing a fair price to farmers. Krishi Bhavans will be made ‘smart’. Digital technologies such as cloud computing, blockchain, and artificial intelligence will be employed to modernise the distribution of good quality planting materials, farming techniques, agricultural extension, harvest, warehouse usage, cold storage chains, and marketing.

₹10 crore has been set apart for establishing an IT-based service network for the marketing of agricultural products in the State. The project will be piloted in two districts. Five agro parks will be established as joint ventures with the participation of farmers and the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). The budget has earmarked ₹10 crore for strengthening the dairy sector by improving value addition.

Plantation

The budget has set apart ₹2 crore for diversification in the plantation sector by encouraging the cultivation of fruits like rambutan, avocado, dragon fruit, and mangosteen. The departments concerned will formulate a policy and roll out a scheme within six months.

Rubber and fisheries

₹50 crore is set apart for paying the entire arrears of rubber subsidy to farmers in the plantation sector.

The budget has allocated ₹5 crore for building infrastructure for fish processing, eyeing the possibilities in value-added products.

The Finance Minister also announced the government’s intention to strengthen the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) and Consumerfed.

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