Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the government would encourage start-ups which can remove segmentation in the agriculture market and help in providing remunerative prices for agriculture products and supplying those to consumers at reasonable rates.
Sitharaman held the first pre-budget consultation on agriculture and rural development in New Delhi during which the main areas of discussion were research and extension services, start-ups in the sector, rural development, non-farm sector, horticulture, food processing, animal husbandry and fisheries.
The minister, who will present the first full Budget of the second Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government on July 5, discussed measures to boost economic and social infrastructure in rural areas and ways to eradicate unemployment and poverty through development of agriculture and allied sectors.
She also said that the government will hold broad-based consultations with different stakeholders from fisheries sector to bring about Blue Revolution by optimally using our maritime resources.
Indian agriculture has been confronted with price volatility, climate risks, and indebtedness. Agrarian distress was one of the important electoral issues, as the last two years had seen farmers protesting in several states, demanding better prices and write-off of debts.
In the Interim Budget, the government had announced a scheme– PM-Kisaan –that gave 120 million farmers owing up to two hectares of land Rs.6,000 a year.
Post election, the government in the first cabinet meeting decided to extend the scheme to all 14.5 crore farmers in the country and announced a pension scheme.
The minister said that concerns of the sector are high on the priority of the Union government which would consider specific needs of different regions of the country.
During the meeting, representatives of the agricultural and rural development sectors submitted various suggestions to boost investment in the sector and enhance market access to farmers.
Suggestions were given to improve food processing sector and introduction of technology-intensive processes in non-farm sector. It was also suggested that solar energy may be treated as third crop to augment income of farmers. Along with the stakeholder groups from the agriculture and rural development sectors.
The meeting was attended by secretaries in the ministry, chief economic advisor K.V. Subramanian, NITI Aayog member Ramesh Chand, Indian Council for Agricultural Research director general Trilochan Mohapatra, and other senior officials.
Later in the day, the finance minister met the stakeholder groups from industry, trade and services sectors who submitted several suggestions concerning industrial policy, startups, land reforms, special economic zones, investment in research and development, simplification of tax regimes, and tapping the potential in tourism.
Those who took part in the consultation include CII president Vikram S. Kirloskar, FICCI president Sandip Somany, Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council chairman Pramod Agrawal,, Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME) president Animesh Saxena and FIEO director general Ajay Sahai. (UNI)