Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that in order to ensure future increases in agriculture output and double the farmers’ income by 2022, focus should be on higher agriculture productivity especially in view of the limitation on expanding crop area.
Speaking at his first Pre -Budget consultative meeting with the representatives of agriculture groups in New Delhi today, Jaitley said that it is possible by leveraging technology-especially for high yielding and resistant variety seeds and efficient utilization of water for irrigation, adapt latest IT to increase resilience to nature by phasing sowing, watering and harvesting among others. He said that in order to increase the price benefits to the farmers, it is necessary that the farmers are provided timely market information and developing software applications, both computer and mobile based, that link farmers to consumers.
The Finance Minister further said along with use of latest technology to raise productivity, there is also need to revisit the incentive structure of farming, to focus to reduce wastages and enhance earnings as well as to improve marketing of farm produce. He said that for efficient implementation of the National Agriculture Market, there is need to integrate the more than 550 regulated Mandis in the country by 2017 for which the States need to reform the APMC Act.
The representatives of the different Agriculture Groups present during the meeting gave valuable suggestions. The Minister assured the group to consider their suggestions.
Major suggestions include due to demonitisation, there is urgent need to provide sufficient funds to District Cooperative Banks where most of the farmers have their bank accounts, cargo hubs and dry ports should be encouraged in the production centre of agri-products. Other suggestions include it should be made mandatory for Agriculture Universities to start Agriculture Marketing Research Department, new schemes to bail-out farmers from debt be announced in the forthcoming Budget and banks be directed to implement scheme of differential rate of interest to agriculture sector both in letter and spirit among others.
Other suggestions included announcement of awards for those who do new technological innovations in agriculture sector, cold chain provision for horticulture and minor vegetables, higher allocation in Budget for agriculture in the Budget as 52 percent of India’s population is based on agriculture and allied sector.