The government should in this year’s Budget enhance cash assistance given to farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme from the current Rs 6,000 per year for purchase of crop inputs, provide tax incentives to agritech startups and cut import duties on agrochemicals, according to industry experts.
There is also need to announce some incentives to farmers as well as agrictech startups for faster adoption of technologies, like artificial intelligence, precision farming and drones, in Indian agriculture sector, they added.
Edible oil industry body SEA has demanded that a national mission should be launched to increase oilseeds production and reduce imports of cooking oils.
“There is urgent need to launch the ‘National Mission on Edible Oils’ with adequate financial support to boost the oilseeds production,” Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) President Ajay Jhunjhunwala said.
Currently, India is importing about 140 lakh tonnes of edible oils annually. The mission needs to be implemented with an outlay of Rs 25,000 crore annually for the next five years to sizably reduce our dependence on imported edible oils to 30-40 per cent of consumption by 2026 from the current level of 65 per cent, he said.
Agrochemical firm Dhanuka Group Chairman R G Agarwal said farmers should be given more amount under the PM-KISAN programme so that they can buy adequate quantity of crop inputs like seeds, fertilisers and pesticides.
Under the PM-KISAN, the Centre pays Rs 6,000 per year in three equal instalments. The scheme, launched in February 2019, was made applicable from December 2018.
Agarwal also demanded some incentives for promoting R&D activities and extension services in the farm sector. K C Ravi, Chief Sustainability Officer, Syngenta India, said the input cost in the farm sector has risen.
“An enhanced outlay for PM-KISAN will also ensure farmers get more liquidity to buy inputs,” he added. Deepak Bhardwaj, co-founder and director of agri-drone maker IoTechWorld Avigation, said the government should set aside some fund from the Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund for the purchase of drones.
Anoop Upadhyay, co-founder of IoTechWorld, suggested that farmers should be able to purchase the subsidised drone and the manufacturers should be reimbursed the subsidy amount.
Karthik Jayaraman, Co-Founder and MD of startup WayCool Foods, said the central and state governments offer a range of schemes and subsidies but navigating to these subsidies is non-trivial for companies.
A single window portal that enables access to these will help companies take advantage of schemes better, and achieve the objective of these schemes, he added. Shekar Sivasubramanian, CEO, Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence, said in the upcoming budget, a continued focus on building sustainable AI capacities to support large-scale deployment of AI solutions in the farm sector will go a long way.
Navneet Ravikar, Chairman & Managing Director, Leads Connect Services, said the grants and subsidies under various schemes for drones should be extended to agritech, agrifintech, and private research organizations working in the field of agriculture.
“The government should grant 50 per cent subsidy for essaying, testing and certification on agricultural products, milk produce to certified food testing labs,” he said.
Aneesh Jain, Founder, Gram Unnati, said, farmers need to adopt new crops and technologies which have the potential to drastically improve yields and returns.
“Some incentives or schemes for setting up demonstrations will go a great distance in promoting new crop & technology adoption by farmers. These demonstrations should however be conducted in concentrated clusters at a village or gram panchayat level to enable sufficient production at one place otherwise market linkages might become a challenge,” he said.
CEF Group, which is into business of bio-fuel and organic fertilisers, founder and CEO Maninder Singh said the government should consider subsidising organic manures in order to promote it among the farmers.
Ankit Alok Bagaria, Co-Founder of biotechnogy starup Loopworm, expected the Budget 2023 to make scale-up grants available as well, independent of whether or not any startup has availed a smaller grant previously, for startups.
Furthermore, he said the Budget should promote precision agriculture and unconventional forms of agriculture such as algae farming and insect farming, with special allocations or incentives.