The Budget has proposed a big expansion of the network of rural roads and agricultural markets, along with concrete steps to help farmers get better prices with the help of a focused strategy on imports and exports as well as participation in the futures market.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley proposed to improve farmers' income and bring greater transparency and competitiveness in price discovery of farm produce to their advantage, besides building rural infrastructure. The government aims to spend Rs 14.34 lakh crore for creation of livelihood and infrastructure in rural India, aiming to create employment of 321 crore man-days, build more than 3 lakh km of rural roads, 51 lakh new rural houses, 1.88 crore toilets and provide 1.75 crore new household electric connections, besides boosting agricultural growth.
Walmart India CEO Krish Iyer said the big push to rural infrastructure and other pro-farmer measures "will contribute to much-needed strengthening of the rural economy. The FM has allocated additional Rs 2,100 crore for rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, while the allocation for the livelihood mission has been doubled to Rs 1,200 crore.
These will result in productive employment for rural poor and augment rural infrastructure, said former agriculture secretary Siraj Hussain, who is a fellow at Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. The government al so plans to help farmers sell their produce directly to major buyers.
For this, Rs 2,000 crore would be spent to develop and upgrade agricultural marketing infrastructure in the 22,000 grameen agricultural markets (GrAMs) and 585 mandis.
Source: The Economic Times