22 January 2022, New Delhi: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget 2022 in Parliament on 1 February. The agriculture sector is expected to get a preferential allocation since the government has been focussing on doubling farmers income. PM Modi had envisioned doubling of farmers income by 2022. The target has not been achieved but a strong ground work has been laid for the future of farmers in India.
The farmers’ protest has ended with repeal of the three farm laws and their demand of setting up a committee to ensure minimum support prices to each farmer for his produce. The industry is hopeful with the thought of ensured MSP as this will push in additional income in rural India and help rebuild Indian economy.
The agriculture sector was allocated 1.31 lakh crore budget for the financial year 2021-22, which was an increase of 14% over 2020-21. PM KISAN scheme had the biggest allocation of 49% of the total. It’s an initiative by the government of India in which all farmers get up to ₹6,000 per year as minimum income support.
New Challenges in Indian Agriculture
The Indian government faces various challenges in the current context which are not about improving production and self sufficiency anymore. Tackling climate change, efficient agronomic practices, lean agriculture models, natural farming, in-situ management of crop residue and reducing carbon footprint are the new areas which require government support.
Prithviraj Sen Sharma, MD and Country Head for Agoro Carbon Alliance said, “India is today in a unique position to drive long-range change towards building climate resilient mechanisms for agriculture and the food industry, and we expect the union budget to reflect some of these priorities very strongly for the coming year.
Indian growers are poised to benefit greatly from the fresh thinking of administrative bodies around building newer, smarter, more digitally-connected ways of producing food with less resources. The upcoming union budget should reflect the shift in attitude towards being more grower-centric, building highly resilient food distribution mechanisms and ensuring our farmers are adequately compensated for their work, said Mr. Sharma.
Farmers in India still work on Agri models that are input-intensive, which affects their overall profitability, said Dhruv Sawhney, Business Head and COO, nurture.farm. Enabling a lean agribusiness model should be a priority by developing shared economy platforms through which farmers can access farm equipment and machinery at substantially lower costs. An impetus towards shared economy models and digitisation of Agri ecosystems in India would induce transparency into the entire sector.
Mr. Dhruv mentioned, “Incentivising sustainable agricultural practises will improve the carbon footprint of agriculture. With the second-largest arable land in the world, India can be a world leader in establishing the potential impact on climate and farmer income by adopting sustainable agriculture practices. Enabling public private partnerships in this domain can help Indian farmers leapfrog towards a climate friendly, sustainable and profitable agriculture.
Sharing additional details on their on ground activity, Mr Dhruv mentioned, “In 2021, our Crop Residue Management (CRM) Programme serviced more than 4,20,000 acres of Punjab and Haryana with a bio-decomposer spray. 92% of the total area serviced followed the protocols and decomposed their crop stubble instead of burning it. Our CRM program thus induced a behavioral shift in farmers, nudging them to adopt sustainable practices leading to a significant reduction in carbon and emissions. As we gear up for phase 2 of the program in 2022, we would be thrilled if the Govt contributes towards incentivising the adoption of this sustainable alternative, thereby accelerating the elimination of the stubble burning practice.”