New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi noting that India’s agricultural sector remained distressed for a long time since independence, he pointed out the country’s dependence on the outside world for our food security. He highlighted how India’s farmers transformed the situation by not only making the nation ‘atmanirbhar’ (self-sufficient) but also capable of exporting food grains.
PM addressed the post-budget webinar on ‘Agriculture and Cooperatives’ today. Prime Minister shed light on the efforts of the government to make domestic and international markets accessible to the farmers. He also stated that India’s goal should not be limited to rice or wheat when it comes to self-sufficiency or export.
Highlighting the imports in the agricultural sector, the Prime Minister gave examples of expenditures of Rs 17,000 crores in 2021-22 for the import of pulses, 25,000 crores for the import of Value Added Food Products, and Rs 1.5 lakh crore spent on the import of edible oils in 2021-22. He further added that the sum of all agricultural imports was about Rs 2 lakh crores. The Prime Minister emphasized that various decisions are being continuously taken in the budget to promote the agricultural sector so that the nation becomes ‘atmanirbhar’ and the money used for imports can reach our farmers.
He gave examples of increase in MSP, promotion of pulse production, increase in the number of food processing parks, and work in mission mode to become completely self-sufficient in terms of edible oil. The Prime Minister underlined that the goal of complete development cannot be achieved until the challenges related to the agriculture sector are eliminated. He observed that private innovation and investment are keeping a distance from this sector which leads to low participation of India’s youth in the agricultural sector compared to the other sectors which witness active participation and growth.
The Prime Minister highlighted that various announcements have been made in this year’s budget to fill this lacuna. Drawing an analogy to the open platform of UPI, the Prime Minister mentioned the Digital Public Infrastructure platform in the agriculture sector and noted the immense possibilities of investment and innovation in Agri-Tech domains. The Prime Minister listed out the opportunities such as improving logistics, making large markets more accessible, promoting drip irrigation through technology, installation of soil testing labs along the lines of medical labs. He also urged the youth to work towards delivering the right advice at the right time while creating a bridge of information between the government and the farmer about their innovations and also assisting in policy making. The Prime Minister also touched upon using drones for crop approximation while providing real-time information about weather changes.
The Prime Minister informed about the introduction of accelerator funds for agri-tech startups and said that the government is not only creating digital infrastructure but also preparing funding avenues. He urged the youth and young entrepreneurs to move forward and achieve their goals. The Prime Minister pointed out that India is home to more than 3000 agri-startups today compared to next to nothing 9 years ago.
The Prime Minister touched upon the International Year of Millets and said that its international identity is opening a gateway to the global market for Indian farmers. “The country has now identified coarse grains as Shri Anna in this budget”, the Prime Minister remarked. He said that Shri Anna is being promoted for the benefit of our small farmers as well as to increase the possibility of growth of startups in this sector.
“A new revolution is taking place in the cooperative sector of India”, the Prime Minister remarked as he pointed out that it is not limited to some states and some regions of the country anymore. He informed that tax-related reliefs have been given to the cooperative sector in this year’s budget which will benefit new cooperative societies engaged in manufacturing. He further added that TDS will not be levied on cash withdrawals up to Rs 3 crore by cooperative societies. The Prime Minister also mentioned the important decision of tax exemption given to the payment made by the sugar cooperative before 2016-17 and said that it will benefit the sugar cooperative to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore.
The Prime Minister emphasized that sectors such as dairy and fisheries which did not have cooperatives earlier will greatly benefit the farmers today. Throwing light on the huge opportunities for our farmers in fisheries, the Prime Minister informed that fish production in the country has increased by about 70 lakh metric tonnes in the last 8-9 years. He also touched upon a new sub-component that has been announced under the PM Matsya Sampada Yojana at a cost of 6000 crores which will give a boost to the fisheries value chain as well as the market.