Year of Agripreneurs – 2017
New Year Greetings from Smart AgriPost !
Let’s start believing that 2017 will usher in well for agri-food sector. The year 2016 witnessed uncertainties post-demonetisation. Opinions are divided over its short term and long term effects on agriculture and food processing sectors. However, challenges and new opportunities are there for the farmers and agri-preneurs.
Low penetration of banks in rural areas, digital illiteracy among rural folk and lack of proper infrastructure in cooperative and district central banks have become major causes of concern.
Amidst all uncertainties, there is huge potential to increase production and productivity, infrastructure and technology interventions. The government has set an ambitious target of increasing farmers income two fold.
Though India has leapfrogged from what we called infamous Bengal famine to what we have today ‘Right to Food’ with domestically food grains. It is a big change. But to continue the momentum and propel sustainable agriculture growth, agriculture and allied agriculture activities need to be shifted from subsistence to commercial.
In comparison to other sectors per say industry and service, more than 58 per cent people in India depend on agriculture for livelihood and employment. The contribution of agriculture sector to India’s DGP is around 15 per cent.
However, the investment in this sector in very low and is not encouraging. Funding for Indian agriculture start-ups declined to $56 million in 2015 from $123 million the year before, according to data from a startup tracking platform. Agriculture start ups attract less than 1% of total funding.
More investment in research, extension, technology and infrastructure is needed. There is yawning gap between production and post-harvest technology.
The Prime Minister in his address on the eve of New Year announced a corpus of Rs 41000 crore to NABARD in regards to pepping up the rural economy. He announced sops for farmers. Will it help improving credit facilities to farmers and entrepreneurs and build infrastructure?
Another area of concern is high volatility of commodity price. It is notice in the beginning of the New Year that prices of pulses have fallen below MSP which may force farmers to switch over other crops. There is large deviation in production estimation of government and market sources. This certainly warrants attention of the government for correction.
The demonetisation more has brought many issues into fore; one among them is regulating misuse of tax exemption of agriculture income. Certainly, starting from film stars to businessman and politicians have used agriculture as a conduit to channelize their money and taking the benefits meant for farmers.
Thus, time has come to take corrective measures keeping farmers and agripreneurs in the mind for long term and sustainable development of agri-food sector.