Reiterating the Government’s commitment to double farmers’ income by 2022, the Union Budget 2018 has given a big boost to the Indian Agriculture sector.
Announcing a slew of new schemes, as well as enhancing support for existing schemes, to the tune of Rs. 14.34 lakh crores, this is perhaps the first Union Budget after independence that has looked beyond Minimum Support Prices (MSP) to enhance farmers’ incomes.
Below is a quick look at some of the notable non-MSP measures that were announced in the Budget:
1. The very definition of ‘agriculture’ was broadened by including Fisheries, Acquaculture and Animal Husbandry, and allocating Rs. 10,000 crores for the development of these sectors.
2. Creation of a Rs. 2,000 crore Agri Market Infrastructure Fund to develop 22,000 Grameen Haats (Rural Agri Markets) and connect them to e-NAM, which will facilitate direct market access to farmers in remote locations who are devoid of any institutional mechanism to connect to distant markets.
3. Allocation of Rs. 500 crores for ‘Operation Green’ to tackle the price volatilities of quintessential vegetables like tomatoes, onions and potatoes. This is perhaps the first time that a Union Budget has been crop specific to address consumer woes.
4. The Institutional Agri Credit was increased to Rs. 11 lakh crores which will encourage more Smallholder Farmers (SHF) to seek formal credit instead of depending on informal credit sources like moneylenders.
5. Allocation to the Food Processing sector was doubled to Rs. 1,400 crores which will immensely benefit farmers of fresh fruits used for Fruit Juices and Pulps.
6. 100% Income Tax exemption for Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) with a turnover above Rs. 100 crores is a welcome step as it will lead to a much-needed consolidation of a multitude of existing FPOs. This will not only improve their operational efficiencies but also enhance farmers’ margins.
As India’s leading Agri Commodities’ e-Market & Services Company committed to enhance farmers’ incomes, we commend the Hon. Finance Minister for coming up with a pro-farmer Budget which will go a long way in transforming the Indian Agriculture sector.