The Karnataka budget for 2018-19 on Thursday allocated Rs 550-crore for progressive and sustainable farming. This comes after it waived a whopping Rs 34,000 crore worth of loans for 17 lakh farmer families across the state.
Presenting a pro-farmer budget in the assembly, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy who holds the Finance portfolio, told lawmakers that the Israeli model of sustainable irrigation could suit the state's farmers in improving their lives.
"I visited Israel last year and studied their farm practices myself. I have no doubt that Israeli model of irrigation would protect the crops and make farmers' lives better," he said in his two-hour long budget speech.
The state government will now experiment with hi-tech Israeli irrigation model and Zero-Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) as part of its initiatives for the farming sector.
The budget allocated Rs 150 crore for creating Israeli model of irrigation, which makes use of drip irrigation methods to conserve water, in 5,000 hectares of dry land in the districts of Kolar, Chitradurga, Koppal and Gadag.
Another Rs 150 crore has been set aside to implement the same model of farming in 5,000 hectares land in Uttara Kannada, Tumakuru, Yadgir and Haveri districts.
The chief minister further proposed that the state implement zero budget natural farming on the lines of Andhra Pradesh for better yields with lesser investment.
A sum of Rs 50 crore was allocated to implement zero budget natural farming in the state, with the support of United Nations Environment Programme which is offering technical assistance through Sustainable India Finance Facility.
The budget also made Rs 190 crore provision for coconut farmers, who have been witnessing unproductive crops due to shortage of rain in the state.
In the health sector, the budget made provisions of Rs 10 crore for strengthening drug control, Rs 30 crore for heart, kidney, liver transplantation for the poor, Rs 40 crore for a 300 bed super speciality hospital in Ramanagara, and Rs 200 crore for new hospitals in Gadag, Koppal, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Belagavi, Mysuru and Kalaburagi.
Mother and child health services and mental health protection services will be integrated with the Emergency Response Services available through ambulance and helpline numbers, Kumaraswamy said.
The chief minister announced Rs 150 crore package for infrastructure repairs of state-run primary schools, high schools and pre-university college buildings.
Another Rs 250 crore was set aside for development and infrastructure repairs of state-run graduate and postgraduate colleges.
Classes in English medium will be held along with Kannada in 1,000 state-run primary schools on an experimental basis, which will attract children to state-run schools, Kumaraswamy said.
The budget provided Rs 5 crore to install biometric instruments in all 48,000 government schools of the state to monitor the attendance of teachers and students.
Through the 'Chief Minister's Mathrusree Scheme' announced in the budget, Rs 1,000 per month will be transferred to the bank accounts of pregnant women from below poverty line (BPL) families for three months prior to the delivery and for three months for lactating mothers as well, Kumaraswamy said.
An amount of Rs 350 crore has been earmarked for the scheme, which will be implemented from November 1.