Rs 20,000 crore for irrigation in next fiscal: Rosaiah

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Hyderabad, Jan 31 (UNI) Andhra Pradesh Government has planned to make an higher outlay of about Rs 20,000 crore for the irrigation sector during 2008-09, Finance Minister K Rosaiah said today.

''Water being the most important input for agriculture sector, bringing more land under assured irrigation enhancing the facilities, has been our priority,'' he pointed out, speaking in the state credit seminar held by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development here.

He appreciated NABARD for taking the initiative to develop 15,000 hectares per district per year for three years on watershed basis in the debt-stressed districts as part of the special package announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Expressing concern over the fact that agriculture term loans from banks accounted for just 9.78 per cent of total ground level credit flow, he urged the bankers to step up capital investment into agriculture to improve production and productivity.

The state government, in partnership with the Centre and NABARD, would revitalise the cooperative sector in order to improve credit flow further to rural sector, the Minister said, thanking NABARD for sanctioning Rs 8143 crore under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund for creating irrigation facilities and providing rural connectivity, apart from promotion of joint forest management and bio-fuel plantations.

Noting with satisfaction NABARD's initiative to provide a separate line of refinance to banks for financing farm production and investment activities through matured Self-Help Groups, he said the state government had set a target of Rs 7000 crore disbursement to SHGs at a mere three per cent interest.

UNI SM VA RL DS1400

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