Presenting the interim budget for the next fiscal, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said farm exports would increase to over USD 45 billion this fiscal, as against USD 41 billion in 2012-13. He also estimated sharp increase in growth of agriculture sector to 4.6 percent this year.
"We are proud of stellar performance of agriculture. ...Agriculture credit is likely to touch Rs 7,35,000 crore, exceeding the target of Rs 7,00,000 crore. ...I am therefore encouraged to set a target of Rs 8,00,000 crore for 2014-15," he said in his budget speech.
Chidambaram further said interest subvention scheme on farm credit, introduced way back in 2006-07, would continue during the next fiscal. At present, interest rate on farm loan is 7 percent, while it is 4 percent for those who repay on time.
"There is a subvention of 2 percent and incentive of 3 percent for prompt payment. Thus reducing the effective rate of interest on farm loans to 4 percent, so far Rs 23,924 crore has been released under the scheme. I propose to continue the scheme in 2014-15," he added.
Highlighting the improved growth of agriculture sector during the UPA tenure, the Minister said: "Agriculture GDP growth increased to 3.1 percent in five years of UPA-I, further to 4 percent in the first four years of UPA-2. In the current year, agri growth is estimated at 4.6 percent."
Chidambaram said that foodgrain production in last ten years has increased from 213 million tonnes to 263 million tonnes this year.
"Foodgrain production in 2012-13 was 255 million tonnes. The estimate for the current year is 263 million tonnes. The estimates of production of sugarcane, cotton, pulses, oilseeds point to a new record," he said.
That apart, Chidambaram said the UPA government enacted the landmark food law that ensures legal right over cheaper foodgrains to 67 percent of the country's population. It also decontrolled the sugar sector.


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