New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday held her fourth pre-budget consultations with different stakeholder groups from agriculture and agro processing sectors in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2020-21.
The main areas of discussion during the meeting included agricultural marketing reforms, organic & natural farming, agricultural commodity markets & future trading, storage infrastructure for agricultural produce, animal husbandry, agro processing industry, ideas for reducing food subsidy among others, the ministry said.
During the meeting, representatives of the agro-processing and rural development sectors submitted various suggestions to boost investment in the agricultural sector and enhance market access to farmers.
Stakeholders’ suggestions included building brands of Indian agricultural products abroad, giving processing industry benefits/importance equivalent to agriculture, accelerating depreciation benefit to agri-processing industries, and revamping the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojna.
The government was also asked to revisit the Food Security Act.
National Collateral Management Services MD and CEO Siraj Chaudhury said there is a need to modernise storage in agriculture and food processing therefore needs private sector investment in this space. He also suggested that the Food Corporation of India should use such storage. “Today FCI is using only government storage, it should use private storage as well,” he said.
Dasaratha Reddy of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA) said that they told the government “that the Rs 6,000 under the PM Kisan scheme will not help neither will a mere MSP increase”.
The Narendra Modi government in February announced the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, under which it provides income support of Rs 6,000 per year to all farmer families in the country, paid in instalments of Rs 2,000 every four months.
Reddu also said that canal irrigation is very low and at the same time, 60 per cent of the rainfed crops are withering away. “Agriculture income has to be improved. MSP as per the M.S. Swaminathan Commission report has to be implemented which was a 2014 election manifesto promise (of the BJP).”
“Land lease rents have been omitted… 70 per cent of the farmers are recurrent farmers without land lease rent, they get negative return on investment.
“MSP should be fixed at cost (actual cost, family labour and land lease) and with 50 per cent profit as suggested by the Swaminathan committee,” he added.
Arun Raste, Executive Director, National Dairy Development Board, said that they have sought budgetary provision to the National Diary Programme version 2 which is assisted by the World Bank and removal of current 30 per cent duty on live animal imports.
Along with the Finance Minister, the meeting was attended by Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur, Finance Secretary Rajeev Kumar, and Economic Affairs Secretary Atanu Chakraborty.
Others who attended the meeting included Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, Agricultural Research and Education & Director General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Atul Chaturvedi, Secretary, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, U.P. Singh, Secretary, Water Resources, RD & GR, Rajni Sekhri Sibal, Secretary, Fisheries, Vasudha Mishra, Special Secretary, Agriculture & Cooperation, Pramod Chandra Mody, Chairman, CBDT, P.K. Das, Chairman, CBIC, Dr K .V. Subramanian, CEA, Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog and other senior officials of Ministry of Finance.
Representatives of different agriculture and rural development sector included Piruz Khambatta, Chairman, CII National Committee on Agriculture and Food Processing Industry, Ashok Gulati, Infosys Chair Professor (ICRIER), Ashwini Chhatre, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Indian School of Business, and Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD among many others.