Union budget 2021-22 will determine the growth of the Indian economy this year, and everybody is eager to know what the Government has planned for the agriculture sector. The farming industry in India has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown. Farmers are the backbone of the country and providing them with a sense of security should be our utmost responsibility.
The Government is planning to double the income of farmers by 2022 but certain measures should be taken for the livestock and fisheries sector as well. Animal husbandry farmers, especially poultry and aqua farmers, do not enjoy the same benefits as crop farmers. The livestock sector currently contributes 25.6 percent to the Agricultural GDP and 4.11 percent to the National GDP. The livestock sector has been incurring losses from the past one year due to shortage of enough resources and raw materials. It is essential to provide credit and insurance to the animal husbandry farmers as well so that the sector can reach its full potential.
Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and other financial institutions should start providing credit loans to animal husbandry farmers as well. This will also encourage the farmers to invest more which will only contribute positively towards the growth of the country.
Livestock farming is one of the key pillars for farmers’ income. The significance of livestock for farmers’ incomes is vast. The livestock and poultry sector contribute almost 30 percent to India’s agriculture gross domestic product (GDP) and is valued at over INR 9 trillion. The integration business model practiced in India is not the correct form. We cannot be in direct competition with farmers. In integration farming, the farmers do not reap much benefit. Real income happens when they are in open farming. Moreover, chick prices vary anywhere between Rs 5 – Rs 55. If bird prices are good in future, open farming will ensure liquidity for farmers. We have always taken a lead stand to ensure their livelihood. I would, therefore, request the industry to self-regulate the price of day-old chicks between 15-30 rupees for the benefit of farmers. A minimum contract growing charge should also be fixed for the poultry sector so that farmers are not affected by the fluctuating market. This will also help in achieving our Prime Minister’s vision of doubling the income of farmers by 2022.
Farms and agricultural operations work very differently than those a few years ago, mainly due to the advancements in technology, including sensors, devices, machines, and information technology. But to actually get full utilisation of the technological advancements it’s important to train the farmers to incorporate the latest scientific advances and technology tools into their everyday operations. Government can contribute to provide technical assistance for the farmers for the better understanding of the improvement.
The announcement of fiscal measures attuned to INR 15,000 crore for Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund and the 3 percent interest subvention for private players encouraged more investment in the livestock sector. There is a huge scope for the growth in the sector, with industry becoming more organised. However, high import duty on machineries that are not available in India can be discouraging. The industry also seeks that the Government allows negligible import duty on capital goods and plant equipment required to manufacture floating fish feed and shrimp feed which are not available in the country.
The agriculture sector had single-handedly supported the whole Indian economy while other major sectors were at a near standstill amid the lockdown. Proper budgetary allocations will help in driving investments and increase adoption in the agriculture sector that will help in progressing our country. Budget 2021 should take steps to improve the viability of small farmers, including poultry and fisheries farmers. Some of the measures that need to be taken are increasing the budget for building and improving the infrastructure they require for better farming. This year’s budget must allocate its expenditure in right direction to get maximum benefits from the farming sector.
(Views expressed the article are author’s own.)
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