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  India   All India  02 Feb 2020  ‘Schemes potential enough to boost farm sector’

‘Schemes potential enough to boost farm sector’

THE ASIAN AGE. | K. VIJAYARAGHAVAN
Published : Feb 2, 2020, 7:20 am IST
Updated : Feb 2, 2020, 7:20 am IST

Support to farm nutrients beyond chemical fertilizer is another encouraging proposition.

Solar power generation in shallow land is  another productive economic opportunity for  rural energy generation.
 Solar power generation in shallow land is another productive economic opportunity for rural energy generation.

The Finance Minister has realized deeply the need for diverse farm outputs to be nurtured in an economy where food quality and nutrition will drive future of human development. Doubling farm income is possible through diverse engagement of farmers in economically relevant, diverse farm activities such as crops, horticulture, fishery, dairy and animal meat production.

All of the 16 key measures envisaged by the Finance Minister are noteworthy with potential to  catalyze game-changing impetus to the agriculture sector. Recognizing changing land use and encouraging States adopting model laws relating to land leasing for productive deployment of land and contract farming are very encouraging initiatives. Well thought-out encouragement for solar based irrigation is vital support to small farmers to sustain farm income.

Solar power generation in shallow land is another productive economic opportunity for rural energy generation. Support to farm nutrients beyond chemical fertilizer is another encouraging prop-osition. However, the bottleneck in approving such products for application with dormant regulatory system for crop protection and crop nutrient products need to be addressed to help farmers gain from these generous support programs. Several innovative products in crop protection and crop nutrition are globally relevant but are held up at the product approval stage with review of such products spanning several years.

Focus on horticulture as a thrust area is brought in for the first time  duly realizing the necessity for India to emerge in this area beyond the cereal production. This focus will energize the circular economy triggering opportunity for value-added fruits and vegetable processing industry. The attention to livestock health with focus on comprehensive immunization of livestock is a well thought out effort. This will also help to accomplish the clean milk production.

There are, however, some elements that are so vital for agriculture and food value chain to move to next orbit that are ignored in the budget. The key challenge in agriculture and food value chain is lack of impetus to innovation for farm solutions or for value addition of farm produce. The budget has no impetus for innovation driven agri and food enterprises to save them from valley of death. Funding by SIDBI through the Fund of Fund Scheme has hardly been deployed for this sector with skewed investment in  e.commerce sector.

The key ignored elements are lack of attention to agri and food processing industry, lack of focus on early stage companies engaged in agriculture innovation and food processing and lack of focus on adopting technologies that are so vital for farm productivity. Relief from laws and regulations such as the National Biodiversity Act that are impediment for farm and food sector to emerge to global competitiveness are other elements the government should bestow attention to get best of gains that the Finance Minister has articulated for this sector.

(The writer is the chairman of Sathguru Management Consultants)

Tags: farm sector, union budget 2020