mandi bhav of india

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Budget: Allied farm, food processing sectors get further push; to promote drones, startups

New Delhi,  In a bid to tap the allied farm and food processing sectors to boost farmers’ income, the government on Tuesday proposed higher budget allocation for these two sectors for the next fiscal, besides announcing finance support for startups, promotion of Kisan drones and PPP mode for delivery of high tech agri-services to farmers.

Presenting the Union Budget in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said inclusive development is one of the four priorities of the government moving forward.

The Budget allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has been raised marginally by 4.5 per cent to Rs 1,32,513 crore for 2022-23 fiscal.

However, the Budget allocation for the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying has been increased by 44 per cent to Rs 6,407.31 crore and for Food Processing Industries by 2.25 times to Rs 2,941.99 crore for the next fiscal.

The finance minister said as part of the inclusive development, the government will implement a “rationalised and comprehensive scheme” to increase domestic oilseed production, thereby reducing the country’s dependence on the import of edible oils.

The government will also bring in legislative and policy changes to promote agro-forestry and implement a comprehensive package, with states to adopt suitable varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be processed.

Further, the government will promote the use of ‘Kisan Drones’ for crop assessment, digitisation of land records and spraying of insecticides, she added.

To finance startups and rural enterprises working in agri-space, the minister said the government will facilitate a fund with blended capital raised under the co-investment model through Nabard.

“This is to finance startups for agriculture and rural enterprise relevant for farm produce value chain,” she noted.

The activities of these startups will include inter-area support for farmer-producer organisations (FPOs), machinery for farmers on a rental basis at the farm level and technology, including invitee base, she added.

The finance minister further said the government will promote chemical-free natural farming throughout the country with a focus on farmers lands in five-kilometre wide corridors along the river Ganga in the first stage.

For the delivery of digital and high-tech services to farmers, she said the government will launch a scheme of public-private partnership (PPP) model with the involvement of public sector research and extension institutions along with private agri-tech players and stakeholders of agri value chains.

States will be encouraged to revise syllabi of agricultural universities to meet the needs of natural zero budget and organic farming, modern-day agriculture, value addition and management, she added.

On the procurement of agri-crops, the minister said the government’s procurement of wheat and paddy at the minimum support price (MSP) during 2021-22 will cover 1,208 lakh tonnes from 163 lakh farmers.

“Rs 2.37 lakh crore will be the direct payment of MSP value to their accounts,” Sitharaman said.

As 2023 has been announced as the International Year of Millets, Sitharaman said the government will support post-harvest support for enhancing domestic consumption of millet products internationally.

For the next fiscal, the government has allocated an estimated budget of Rs 6,75,000 crore for PM-KISAN, Rs 15,500 crore for the crop insurance scheme, Rs 7,183 crore for the Krishonnati Yojana, Rs 10,433 crore for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and about Rs 1,500 crore for Market Intervention Scheme-Price Support Scheme. PTI