The finance minister has realized deeply the need for diverse farm outputs to be nurtured in an economy where food quality and nutrition will drive future of human development. Doubling farm income is possible through diverse engagement of farmers in economically relevant, diverse farm activities such as crops, horticulture, fishery, dairy and animal meat production.
All of the 16 key measures are noteworthy with potential to catalyze game-changing impetus to the sector.
Recognizing changing land use and encouraging states adopting model laws relating to landleasing for productive deployment of land and contract farming are very encouraging initiatives. Well thought-out encouragement for solar based irrigation is vital support to small farmers to sustain farm income.
Solar power generation in shallow land is another productive economic opportunity for rural energy generation. Support to farm nutrients beyond chemical fertilizer is another encouraging prop-osition. However, the bottleneck in approving such products for application with dormant regulatory system for crop protection and crop nutrient products need to be addressed to help farmers gain from these generous support programs. Several innovative products in crop protection and crop nutrition are globally relevant but are held up at the product approval stage with review of such products spanning several years.
There are, however, some elements that are so vital for agriculture and food value chain to move to next orbit that are ignored in the budget. The key challenge in agriculture and food value chain is lack of impetus to innovation for farm solutions or for value addition of farm produce. The budget has no impetus for innovation driven agri and food enterprises to save them from valley of death. Funding by SIDBI through the Fund of Fund Scheme has hardly been deployed for this sector with skewed investment in e.commerce sector.
(The writer is the chairman of Sathguru Management Consultants)