Budget 2024: Nirmala Sitharaman Signals support to Farm Sector

It is expected that Rs 12,000 incentives will be given to women farmers. If more such incentives are announced, the agriculture sector will become the largest employer in the country.
Budget 2024: Nirmala Sitharaman Signals support to Farm Sector

The Interim Budget 2024 is expected to focus on agriculture. In order to give top priority to the welfare of farmers, there is a possibility of increasing the funds for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana. At present, there is a possibility of increasing the amount of money given annually to the farmers as agricultural investment. It is expected to reach from Rs 6,000 to Rs 9,000 per year. It is also expected that Rs 12,000 incentives will be given to women farmers every year. If more such incentives are announced, the agriculture sector will become the largest employer in the country.

Agriculture plays a vital role in India's economy. 42% of the country's population is directly or indirectly dependent on it. The Modi government is determined to double the farmers’ income by 2022.  Due to the Corona pandemic and economic crisis in various sectors, the promise of doubling farmers' income by 2022 has not been possible.

The allocation of RS 2 trillion to the agriculture ministry in the upcoming budget it expected to support government initiatives focused on formers ‘income and crop insurance. Experts from this sector are stressed the need for additional measures such as providing incentives and loans for acquiring agricultural machinery. They also expecting of reduction of duties on raw materials for agricultural machinery is essential to ensure the affordability of such equipment. 

 However, it will be a challenge for the Centre to ensure that the impact of the economic crisis on other sectors does not fall on the agriculture sector. Apart from this, it is important to take steps to provide modern technological knowledge in agriculture. If it is done, the production costs will go down and production will go up. According to experts, this will lead to an increase in income of farmers also. Being election budget, allocations for the agriculture, irrigation sectors, quality seeds and technology are going to be crucial for the finance minister.

Inflation in the agricultural sector has been on the rise for the past few months. The prices of petrol, diesel, groceries and vegetables are sky-rocketing. These all are reasons for crisis in farming sector. Extreme weather conditions have had a negative impact on crop yields. Due to the El Nino effect, this year's rains have been delayed, causing fluctuations in crop yields. There are food shortages in some areas in the country. Agricultural production is declining. The high temperatures damaged the wheat crop.

Even though in the 21st century, farming is done in traditional ways. In contrast, the use of technology in the agricultural sector is increasing all over the world. It also improves the quality of agriculture products. In such a situation, our farmers are not able to compete with international markets. There is a huge gap between the expectations of the international markets and productions from Indian agriculture sector. Many are of the opinion that the government should come up with policies that promote the use of technology in the agriculture sector. Start-ups in this sector should be given incentives so that farmers can get technology and equipment related to it cheaply.

The foundation stone for bringing technology in the agriculture sector has been laid in Budget 2022 itself. A fund has been set up under NABARD to encourage agri-tech start-ups to promote Kisan drones. The real challenge is to apply block-chain, artificial intelligence, drones, and the Internet of Things to the agricultural sector. Experts from agriculture sector are demanding Centre to allocate more funds for technology adoption and tax exemptions.

Agriculture credit target for FY 2024-25 is expected to be increased Rs 22 to 25 lakhs crore. As per the statements of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Centre wants to ensure that every eligible farmer gets access to credit. The target of agriculture credit is for the current financial year is Rs. 20 lakh crore. At present, the government is giving 2% interest subvention on short-term agricultural loans up to Rs 3 lakh. That is why farm loans up to Rs 3 lakh are available at 7% interest rate. An additional 3% interest subvention will be given to those who pay their dues within the due date. Farmers can take long-term loans. The interest rate depends on the market rate.

Reducing the interest burden on agricultural loans will benefit the farmers. Experts also suggest that the government should pay attention to agricultural losses. Farmers are facing high losses in the fruit production, chicken egg production and fish industry. According to official figures, six per cent of the production is going waste in poultry and horticulture sectors. About five per cent of the total production of pulses and vegetables is losing due to various reasons. These losses are due to lack of availability of proper godowns and cold storages to store the produce. Lack of proper transportation facilities is also a cause of the damage. There is a demand that the Centre should focus on these issues and allocate funds in the budget.