The key challenges faced by the Indian agriculture are the need to increase productivity by leveraging technology, especially for high yielding and resistant variety seeds and efficient utilisation of water, adapt information technology to increase resilience to nature by phasing sowing, watering and harvesting and to increase the price benefits to the farmer by providing timely market information.
These challenges can be addressed by revisiting the incentive structure of farming, use latest technology to raise productivity, reduce wastages and enhance earnings as well as to improve marketing of farm produce. There is a need for more investment in agriculture sector, this was opined by the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He was speaking during his first Pre -Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of Agriculture Groups in New Delhi.
The Finance Minister further said that the performance of agriculture sector during three out of the last four years (2015-16, 2014-15, 2012-13) has not been good mainly due to inadequate monsoons. As per the estimates of GDP for the second quarter (July-September) of 2015-16, the minister said that agriculture, forestry and fishing sector grew by 2.2 percent as compared to growth of 2.1 percent in the corresponding period of 2014-15.
The representatives of the different Agriculture Groups present during the meeting included Venkatrao Nadagouda, Federation of Oilseeds Cooperative Growers of India, Vijayan Rajes, president, United Planters Association of South India, Dr. Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice Chancellor, Panjab Agriculture University, Siraj Chaudhary, Chairman & MD, Cargill India, Keshab Das, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Dr. Suresh Pal, Member, Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices, Bojja Dashratha Rami Reddy, Secretary General, Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, Dr. KV Prabhu, Joint Director (Research), Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Devesh Roy, International Food Policy Research Institute, Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, Harish Damodaran, The Indian Express, UK Awasthi, Chairman, IFFCO, Gulshan John, Chairperson, All India Spices Exporter Forum, Satish Chander, DG, Fertilizer Association of India, among others.
Many suggestions came from the representatives of different Agriculture Groups. Major suggestions include micro irrigation system be given infrastructure lending status, food exports may be taxed rather than banned and funds collected there from be spent for improving irrigation system. It was suggested to set-up National Institute for Agriculture Market Intelligence, introduction of agriculture index and satellite survey every month. Data received though survey be shared with farmers so that they can take a decision about sowing of a particular crop as well as its marketing.
Other suggestions included maximum retail price (MRP) be fixed for different types of fertilisers, cost of urea be increased while NPK prices be decreased for balanced use of fertilisers, discourage import of urea from China. Other suggestions included direct transfer of fertiliser subsidy to farmers, introduction of Price Deficiency Payment System, 100 percent funding by Central Government to control food and mouth disease among the livestock, subsidy to farmers through Government agencies for setting-up solar system, subsidy on herbicides, setting-up warehousing facilities in the rural areas so that farmers can store their produce and thereby avoid distress sale by them.
Other suggestions included development of village/farm ponds, provision of three phase electricity and drip irrigation system, to create awareness among farmers about crop insurance and timely settlement of their claims, promoting investment for having better quality seeds, higher investment in agriculture research and development, creation of market platform for agro products, expansion of price stabilisation fund, cheap credit for livestock, timely release of grants, exemption of oil seeds from GST, rubber to be considered as a agriculture commodity, to create a buffer stock of pulses and edible oils as international commodities prices are historically low, reforms in Land Lease Act, setting-up of Special Commission for irrigation to improve dryland farming, Green Revolution to be taken to North East, all those given employment under MGNREGA programme should be registered under Panchayats and made available for agriculture among others.
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