Union Budget 2021: Farm innovation fund needed to support agri-tech options, startups, boost innovation – India News , Firstpost

The out there statistics amplify the potential of India’s agriculture sector to assist fiscal development

Representational picture courtesy Pixabay

The agriculture sector accounts for shut to 16 % of the nation’s GDP, makes use of practically half the out there land, consumes round 80 % of the freshwater sources, and engages nearly 50 % of the nation’s workforce. Approximately 70 % of the agricultural households nonetheless rely totally on agriculture, with shut to 80 % of farmers being small and marginal. Even although the current COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges for many sectors of the Indian economic system, agriculture and allied actions demonstrated extraordinary resilience. The out there statistics amplify the potential of India’s agriculture sector to assist fiscal development. However, adherence to a conventional strategy and unscientific farming strategies nonetheless loom massive over the agricultural area.

Budget 2021 is a window for the policymakers to actively establish and poise volumetric targets with sustainability whereas transferring up the worth chain to improve farmer and nationwide revenue.

Agricultural productiveness by way of micro-irrigation

As of 2020, out of the 141 million hectares of cultivated land, 51 % of the land is below irrigation and inside this, solely about 16 % (11 million hectares) have entry to fashionable irrigation know-how. The authorities information recommend that within the 12 months 2019-20, solely 11.72 lakh hectares have been lined below micro-irrigation.  The present goal is to popularize using micro-irrigation know-how by protecting extra 10 million hectares of land in 5 years. To obtain this formidable goal and contribute in direction of making the sector self-reliant, it’s crucial that the federal government locations a mechanism to guarantee a clean stream of funds, thereby making certain satisfactory utilisation by the tip-beneficiary.

Special budgetary help for micro-irrigation

The monetary pressure attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic has left many states throughout the nation to slash the finances for micro-irrigation. Policymakers ought to think about supporting the states by way of a further corpus of funds both by direct particular help program or growing the prevailing Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) arrange below NABARD to facilitate states in mobilising sources for increasing protection of micro-irrigation.

Irrigation subsidy

The delays within the disbursal of micro-irrigation subsidies below the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) program are hampering its progress. Online portal for an end-to-end course of execution and visibility, transparency within the course of for fund disbursement, making certain checkpoints at varied levels and adherence to timelines would convey the effectivity in subsidy disbursal and support farmers to be debt-free in a quicker approach. SOPs to map the district-sensible annual progress and penetration of micro-irrigation would act as an instrumental measure.

Water budgeting for the complete village might be created below the mannequin village program and executing District Irrigation Plans (DIP) to push PMKSY targets on the district stage would work in benefit. The set up of micro-irrigation might be geo-tagged to get actual-time information yearly. All these measures would help to guarantee quicker transmission of funds to the beneficiaries. Infrastructure standing would assist the micro-irrigation producer (95 % of which comes below MSME) in diminished working prices, thereby accelerating the business development in addition to convey the tools price down for the farmer group.

Aligning completely different schemes

Focus on renewable vitality like photo voltaic is not going to solely guarantee vitality safety particularly in agriculture and the agricultural panorama but additionally handle environmental issues. Making farmers vitality-enough would additionally cut back the burden on authorities vitality subsidy invoice. Solar set up-pleasant agriculture would assist farmers with diminished operational prices, boost land utilisation and enhance general revenue. Additionally, making micro-irrigation necessary for subsidised photo voltaic installations at particular person farms would lead to a quicker adaption of recent farming strategies.

Diversification packages to improve productiveness

Around 12 % of the cropped space below Fruits and Vegetables (F and V) leads to 24 % in worth phrases, in distinction to 13 % space below oilseeds which provides solely 6 % in worth phrases due to lack of scalability. Addressing the home demand for edible oils, it’s inevitable to promote home oilseeds and oil palm cultivation with greater productiveness measures. Similarly, rice which has been the main crop each by way of space protection and water utilization might be disrupted by way of drip know-how intervention which may enhance yield, save water and cut back carbon emissions.

Focus on creating infrastructures

Special focus and fund allocation within the upcoming Budget for infrastructure in rural areas would support the digitalisation of agriculture and put the agriculture sector on the quick-monitor. Currently, India is spending lower than 1 % of aagriculture GDP in R and D. An agriculture innovation fund, which helps agri-tech options, startups and digitalisation at completely different ranges of the agriculture worth chain can rework the agriculture economic system sooner or later.

Interest subsidy on agriculture

Access to credit score stays one of many essential parts in a sustainable and extra importantly a rising ecosystem. Interest subsidy on agriculture for lengthy-time period loans to assist farmers with lengthy-time period funding in farming and micro-irrigation tools or infrastructure creation associated to farming can go a good distance in constructing a sustainable improvement mannequin in agriculture. Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for adopting micro-irrigation related to Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises for MSMEs shall be useful the place preliminary support might be supplied by the federal government.

The author is Managing Director, Netafim India and Senior Vice President, Netafim Ltd

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