Make in India – Make for Farmers
BY PRVASH PRADHAN, EDITOR:
With ambitious reforms on agenda, people across India are waiting in bated breath to watch the first full-fledged budget of Narendra Modi led government at centre. The last budget in July 2014 witnessed more of a kind of follow up of UPA government’s programmes and policies. Then people waited and watched patiently. But now, after nine months, people want ‘performance ‘and ‘governance’.
There is an urgent need to relook at the agriculture sector in totality. And priority should be given on ‘Make for Farmers’ to realise a dream of inclusive and sustainable growth of India. A new agricultural revolution is required to increase productivity and empower farmers.
Only 35 per cent of arable lands are irrigated. Though agriculture productivity has increased over the years, yet lack of infrastructure and innovative market linkages have caused distress to the farming community. Investment should be encouraged to make warehouses and post harvest storage facilities. Farm-to-fork supply chain should be strengthened to give a good return on investment to the producers.
Farm mechanisation, on average 25 per cent as against more than 90 per cent in developed countries, is another driving force of Indian agriculture. It’ll not only increase productivity but also create employment opportunity. According to a study by Indian Council of Agricultural Research, farm mechanisation results in generating employment to rural youth and artisans for the production, operation and maintenance of machines.
Food processing is an emerging sector and due attention should be given in the budget, thus enabling to address several concerns such as disguised unemployment in agriculture, rural poverty, food security, food inflation and prevention of wastage of food.
Agri-traders, industry leaders, economists and all other stakeholders are eagerly waiting for the announcement of GST. Many people apprehend uniform tax structure might adversely affect agriculture and food processing sector, resulting in food inflation.
Agriculture and allied sectors are generating 54.6 per cent of total employment (census 2011) in the country. If further strengthened, standalone agriculture sector will create employment opportunities in large scale, thereby making a better India. Growth with equity should be primary policy thrust of India.