New Delhi/IBNS: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated around Rs 1.15 crore to Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in Budget 2023-24 against the last year’s approximately Rs 1.10 lakh crore, a hike of around 4.6 percent.

The finance minister increased the agriculture credit target to Rs 20 lakh crore with focus on animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries; announced the setting up of 10,000 Bhartiya Prakritik Kheti Bio-Input Resource Centres creating a national-level distributed micro-fertilizer and pesticide manufacturing network over the next three years; incentives for the adoption of alternative and natural fertilisers through PM Programme for Restoration, Awareness, Nourishment and Amelioration of Mother Earth (PRANAM) and 500 bio-gas plants across the country through under GOBARdhan (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) scheme.

Sithraman also made clear the Union government’s push for the production and export of millets. “India is the global hub for millets, or shree anna. India is at the forefront of popularising millets.”

The FM said, “the Indian Institute of Millets Research, Hyderabad, will be supported as centre of excellence for sharing research and best practices at international level.”

Reacting to the Budget Rajashekhar Reddy Seelam, Managing Director, Sresta Natural Bioproducts said referring to Millets as Shree Anna by FM in her budget speech could not have been more appropriate.

It rightly highlights the role that millets play in sustainable agriculture and in offering a more balanced, diversified diets and with 70% less water, millets are key to climate change mitigation.

Millets also contain more proteins, fibre, minerals, beneficial phytonutrients and can greatly reduce diabetes, heart diseases.

“I would like to thank the Govt. for bringing focus on the ‘Mother of all Grains’ and this is a step in the right direction to make millets part of our daily diets,” he added.

Godrej Agrovet MD Balram Yadav said picking up the strings from the last year’s budget, the Union Budget 2023-24 is a step forward in leveraging technology for improved agriculture in India.

Educating farmers on the new-age technology and realigning crop planning based on climatic conditions is a necessity and it is herein that digital open infrastructure will play critical role – improving access to farm inputs as well as intelligence.

With our country’s startups playing a critical role in building innovative and affordable solutions for farmers, enhanced collaboration within the eco-system will go a long way in enhancing farmers productivity and profitability.

Parallelly, the agriculture credit and insurance initiatives would aid farmers to invest in better techniques while the duty reduction in marine products would motivate shrimp manufactures.

With India emerging as a net exporter of agriculture and allied products, this budget can be termed tech-focused-inclusive budget for Indian farmers – the one which focuses on supply and input sides to enable farmers get better price for their produce, he added. 

ReshaMandi Founder & CEO Mayank Tiwari said the government’s initiative of creating a special accelerator fund for agriculture is a step towards turning agri-tech into a sunrise sector for investments.

This will further provide a much-needed boost in productivity, besides improving efficiency, and reducing crop failure, to farmers, and all other stakeholders in the supply chain, who will now gain access to new-age technology developed by agritech start-ups.

The accelerator fund is certain to drive innovation in the sector, which will ensure optimal utilization of all resources, including the vast labor pool currently engaged in farming.

Agritech has for long been a fertile ground for the start-up ecosystem but is yet to attract the droves of entrepreneurs it was expected to.

The government’s decision to relax taxation for start-ups for up to 10 years, coupled with the setting up of bio hubs in rural areas, will greatly ease the process of setting up units in villages.

Our efforts to improve the supply-chain network for all our stakeholders in the natural fibre ecosystem supply chain receives a major boost from the decision to support collaborative projects between farmers, states, and businesses to provide input supply extension services and market connections.

Besides providing direct access to global markets, ready access to the internet will expose the farming community to the best trade and agricultural practices the world over.

Promise of financial assistance to traditional artisans such as weavers, who are ReshaMandi’s strategic stakeholders and partners, is a decision we welcome with much delight.

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