25 February 2023, New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday addressed the post-budget webinar on ‘Agriculture and Cooperatives’. This is the second in a series of 12 post-budget webinars organized by the Government to brainstorm ideas for the effective implementation of the initiatives announced in the Union Budget-2023.
In his address, the Prime Minister said that like in the last 8-9 years, a lot of importance has been given to Agriculture in this budget also. The Agriculture Budget, which was less than Rs.25,000 crore in 2014, has now been increased to more than Rs.1.25 lakh crore. He said, “In recent years, every budget has been called the budget for the village, poor, and the farmers.”
In the keynote address at the beginning of the webinar, Prime Minister Modi said that after Independence, our Agriculture sector remained under the pressure of scarcity for a long time. We depended on the world for our food security, but our farmers have not only made us self-reliant, but today because of them we have also been able to export.
Today India is exporting many types of agricultural products. We have made it easy for farmers to access domestic and international markets, it is also to be kept in mind that whether it is self-reliance or exports, the target should not be limited to rice and wheat. For example, in 2021-22, Rs. 17,000 crores was incurred on the import of pulses, and spent Rs. 25,000 crore on the import of value-added food products, besides edible oil imports cost us Rs.1.5 lakh crore in 2021-22.
About Rs. 2 lakh crore was incurred on the import of so many items, which implies so much money has gone out, which could reach our farmers if we become AatmaNirbhar (self-reliant) in these products also. For the last few years, steps have been taken in the budget to take these sectors forward. We increased the MSP, promoted pulses production, and increased the number of food processing food parks. Along with this, work is going on in Mission mode to become completely self-sufficient in the matter of edible oils.
The Prime Minister said that unless we address the challenges related to the Agriculture sector, the goal of all-around development cannot be achieved. Today, many sectors of India are progressing rapidly, and our energetic youth are actively participating in it, but their participation in agriculture is less, while they also know about its importance and possibilities to move forward in it. Various announcements have been made in this year’s budget to fill the gaps of private innovation and investment, for example, the promotion of open source-based platforms in the Agriculture sector. We have put forth the digital public infrastructure as an open-source platform. This is the same as the open platform of UPI, through which digital transactions are taking place today.
Today, as a revolution is taking place in digital transactions, the same way, immense possibilities of investment and innovation are being created in the Agri-Tech domain. It has the potential to improve logistics, it has the opportunity to make it easier to reach the mass market, it has the opportunity to promote drip irrigation through technology, as well as our youth can work to reach the right advice to the right person in time. Private soil testing labs can be set up in the same way as labs work in the medical sector. Our youth can become a bridge of information between the government and the farmer with their innovation. They can tell which crop can be more remunerative. They can use drones to estimate crop cultivation. They can help in policy making. You can also provide real-time information about the changes in the weather at any place. There is a lot for the youth to do in this sector, by actively participating in which they will help the farmers, as well as they will also get an opportunity to move forward.
Mr. Modi said that this year’s budget has also made an important announcement about the provision of Accelerator Funds for agri-tech startups, we are not only building digital infrastructure, but we are also preparing funding avenues. Now it is the turn of our young entrepreneurs, they should move forward with enthusiasm and achieve their goals. It should also be kept in mind that 9 years ago there were very few Agri Startups in the country, but today they are more than 3,000. Still, we have to move forward at a faster pace. He said that on the initiative of India, this year has been declared the International Year of Millets. Millets getting international recognition means that the global market is getting ready for our small farmers. The country has now given the name of ‘Shri Anna’ to Millets in this budget itself. The way Shri Anna is being promoted will greatly benefit small farmers. There is an increased scope for growth of such startups in this sector, which make it easier for farmers to access the global market.
The Prime Minister said that a new revolution is taking place in the Cooperative sector. Till now it was limited to some states and some regions, now it is being expanded across the country. Important tax-related reliefs have been given to the Cooperative sector in the budget. New cooperative societies forming will get the benefit of lower tax rates. TDS will not be applicable on cash withdrawals up to Rs 3 crore by cooperative societies. There has always been a feeling in the cooperative sector that they are discriminated against in comparison to other companies, this injustice has been removed from the budget. In the important decision, tax exemption has been given by the sugar cooperatives on the payments made before 2016-17, due to which they will gain Rs 10,000 crore. In areas where cooperatives do not exist, cooperatives related to dairy and fisheries will greatly benefit small farmers. In particular, there are huge opportunities for our farmers in Fisheries. Fish production in the country has increased by about 70 lakh metric tonnes in the last 8-9 years. Before 2014, it took about thirty years to increase production by that much. In this budget, Rs. 6,000 crore rupees have been allocated for PM Matsya Sampada Yojana as a new sub-component, which will boost the market along the fisheries value chain and create new opportunities for fishermen and small entrepreneurs. We are also working fast towards promoting natural farming and reducing chemical-based farming. PM Pranaam Yojana and Gobardhan Yojana will be of great help in this direction.
In the concluding session, Union Minister Mr. Tomar said that it is easy to understand the ground reality through the post-budget webinar. A good government reduces doubts to zero, under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, the government is doing this work very well. The more consultations are held on various forums, the more people participation will take place. This practice also improves the quality of implementation. Many new initiatives have been taken in this budget. The budget is very good and far-reaching, important provisions have been made for agriculture and allied sectors.
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