Govt working towards making domestic, international markets accessible to farmers: PM

24 February, 2023 | Pragati Singh

modi National

Prime Minister Modi emphasised the importance of agriculture in this year's budget as well as previous budgets over the last 8-9 years.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, emphasising the government’s focus on agriculture, said on Friday that the government is working to make domestic and international markets more accessible to farmers.
On Friday, the Prime Minister spoke at a post-budget webinar on agriculture and cooperatives.

It is the second in a series of 12 post-budget webinars organised by the government to solicit ideas and suggestions for the effective implementation of the Union Budget 2023 initiatives. In his address to the gathering, Prime Minister Modi emphasised the importance of agriculture in this year’s budget as well as previous budgets over the last 8-9 years. He stated that the agricultural budget was increased from less than Rs 25,000 crore in 2014 to more than Rs 1.25 lakh crore today.

“Every Budget in recent years has been called a budget for Gaon, Gareeb and Kisan,” Modi said.

Noting that India’s agricultural sector has been in distress for a long time since independence, the Prime Minister emphasised the country’s reliance on the outside world for food security.

He emphasised how India’s farmers changed the situation by not only making the country self-sufficient, but also capable of exporting food grains. “Today India is exporting many types of agricultural products”, the Prime Minister said, highlighting the government’s efforts to make domestic and international markets more accessible to farmers.

He also stated that when it comes to self-sufficiency or export, India’s goal should not be limited to rice or wheat. The Prime Minister highlighted agricultural imports, citing expenditures of Rs 17,000 crore in 2021-22 for the import of pulses, 25,000 crore for the import of Value Added Food Products, and Rs 1.5 lakh crore for the import of edible oils.

He went on to say that the total value of all agricultural imports was around Rs 2 lakh crore. The Prime Minister emphasised that various budget decisions are constantly being made to promote the agricultural sector so that the nation can become ‘atmanirbhar’ and the money used for imports can reach our farmers.

He cited increasing the Minimum Support Price (MSP), promoting pulse production, increasing the number of food processing parks, and working in mission mode to become completely self-sufficient in edible oil as examples.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the goal of complete development cannot be achieved until the agricultural sector’s challenges are addressed. He observed that private innovation and investment are avoiding this sector, resulting in low participation of India’s youth in the agricultural sector compared to other sectors that are experiencing active participation and growth.

PM Modi emphasised that various announcements were made in this year’s budget to fill this void. He mentioned the Digital Public Infrastructure platform in the agriculture sector, drawing an analogy to the open platform of UPI, and noted the enormous possibilities for investment and innovation in agri-tech domains.

The Prime Minister outlined opportunities such as better logistics, making large markets more accessible, promoting drip irrigation through technology, and establishing soil testing labs similar to medical labs. He also urged the youth to work towards providing the right advice at the right time, as well as building a link between the government and farmers about their innovations and assisting in policymaking.

The PM also mentioned using drones for crop estimation while providing real-time weather information. He mentioned accelerator funds for agri-tech startups and stated that the government is not only building digital infrastructure but also preparing funding avenues. He encouraged the youth and young entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams.

The Prime Minister noted that India now has over 3000 agri-startups, compared to almost nothing nine years ago. The Prime Minister mentioned the International Year of Millets, saying that its international recognition provides Indian farmers with access to the global market.

“The country has now identified coarse grains as Sri Anna in this budget,” he 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,” PM Modi remarked as he pointed out that it is not limited to some states and some regions of the country anymore.

He stated that the cooperative sector has received tax breaks in this year’s budget, which will benefit new cooperative societies engaged in manufacturing. TDS will not be levied on cash withdrawals by cooperative societies up to Rs 3 crore, he added.

The Prime Minister also mentioned the significant decision of tax exemption granted to payments made by the sugar cooperative prior to 2016-17, which will benefit the sugar cooperative to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore. The Prime Minister emphasised that previously uncooperative sectors such as dairy and fisheries will now greatly benefit farmers.

The Prime Minister stated that fish production in the country has increased by about 70 lakh metric tonnes in the last 8-9 years, highlighting the enormous opportunities for our farmers in fisheries. He also mentioned a new sub-component announced under the PM Matsya Sampada Yojana at a cost of Rs 6,000 crore that will benefit the fisheries value chain as well as the market.

The Prime Minister mentioned the PM Pranam Yojana and Gobardhan Yojana, both of which are government initiatives aimed at promoting natural farming and reducing chemical-based farming.