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India earmarks billions for farmers’ upliftment

New Delhi / AFP

India’s government promised billions of dollars to help struggling farmers and boost the rural economy as it unveiled its annual budget on Monday, looking to kickstart growth and bolster its
flagging popularity.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley acknowledged the challenges as he presented the budget in parliament, but said he had a “vision to transform India”.
“We have a desire to provide socio-economic security to every Indian, especially the farmers, the poor and the vulnerable,” he said.
“We have a dream to see a more prosperous India and a vision to transform India.”
Jaitley pledged to spend 359 billion rupees ($5.2 billion) on doubling the income of India’s estimated 120 million farmers over the next five years through measures including a crop insurance scheme and better access to markets.
The vast farming sector is suffering after two years of weak monsoon rains, and from high inflation.
The budget outlined plans to raise credit available to farmers to nine trillion
rupees for 2016-17, and pledged to ensure all the country’s villages have
electricity within two years.

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