File image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi
India’s agriculture economy is ripe for a ‘revolution’ in post-harvesting and food-processing sectors. And, the Union Budget 2021-22 aims to achieve these goals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on March 1.
Speaking at a webinar on the Budget’s agriculture-related announcements, the prime minister also said the private sector should increase its participation in areas such as agriculture research and development, storage and processing, as well as soil testing.
“The time is ripe for a post-harvesting and food-processing revolution in India. This should have been done two-three decades ago. We have to make up for that lost time, and have to focus on processing facilities in rural areas,” PM Modi said.
The webinar was attended by officials from the ministries of Agriculture and Food Processing, as well as rural-sector lenders.
The prime minister said that the need for the hour is to ensure that the farmers with smaller land holdings get the best price possible for their produce.
“We have to increase the number of rural agro-processing clusters and storage clusters, close to where the farmers are producing,” he said.
PM Modi also said that India’s aim was to boost its share in processed fish and seafood product markets.
“Now, all the seafood that is cultivated here goes to South East Asia for processing before being distributed to markets across the world. That needs to change,” he said.
The PM said that the private sector should contribute to the centre’s aim of having a soil testing facility in every village, and also increase its participation in research and development work related to the agriculture sector.
In the Union Budget
, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman - in an effort to raise the farmer income - raised the farm credit target for the financial year 2021-22 to Rs 16.5 lakh crore. For the financial year 2020-21, the farmer credit target was kept at Rs 15 lakh crore. The Budget allocated Rs 1.23 lakh crore for centrally-sponsored schemes in the agriculture sector for 2021-22, down 8 percent from Rs 1.34 lakh crore in 2020-21.
FM Sitharaman also increased allocation to the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund from Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore. The allocation to Micro Irrigation Fund created under NABARD was also augmented by another Rs 5,000 crore.