Vijay C Roy
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 27
Agriculture remains a significant contributor to the region’s as well as the country’s economy. The farm sector is also a major source of employment for rural youth. With dwindling farmers’ income in the wake of various challenges, the farming community wants implementation of schemes to be announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Union Budget on February 1. The Tribune compiled the Budget wish list of farmer associations, experts and agricultural research associates. Following are the expectations:
Boost credit infrastructure
A significant number of small farmers are dependent on NBFCs for credit. “For the past few years, the NBFCs are facing a fund crunch. The government must strengthen them with funds so that they can provide easy credit to farmers,” said Hardeep Singh, a farmer.
Emphasis on research and development
The conventional agriculture has changed to precision agriculture. “The government should focus on research and development, especially in the wake of climate change and other challenges to increase the farmers’ income. By adopting new technology, the farmers can increase their productivity besides reducing their input costs,” said Dr Kamal Vatta, Head of Department, Economics and Sociology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
Focus on agriculture infrastructure
To increase the farmers’ income, the need of the hour is to strengthen agriculture infrastructure. “The government should lay special emphasis on marketing linkages, farmer cooperatives, farmer producer organisations and processing facilities,” said Puneet Singh Thind, National Director, Vegetable Growers Association of India. He said a lot of initiatives are announced in the Union Budget every year, but very few are implemented on the ground. “The government should focus on implementation of initiatives rather than mere announcements,” he added.
Strengthen warehousing facilities, agri finance
There is a need for innovation in the agriculture sector and those innovations would be incomplete without incorporating the warehousing sector and agri finance. Steps like inclusion of agri warehousing under priority sector lending, subsidy schemes, tax sops and the Warehousing Act have gone a long way in promoting the agriculture sector.
Digitise land records of farmers
The government must focus on digitising land records as it will help in tapping the resources better and making the access to information regarding farmers easier. This will also help in the implementation of various schemes effectively.
Assured procurement across the country
The government is yet to extend the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops. Even for those crops where there is an MSP, the farmers are not getting a remunerative price for their produce except for few crops. Moreover, the organised procurement system is restricted to a few states. Experts said if the government is really serious about increasing the farmers’ income, then it should ensure remunerative price to the farmers.
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