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Budget 2021 could focus on sustainable development in agriculture

India is a food surplus economy, but is not able to efficiently market frequent surpluses in global markets, nor in deficient areas domestically. The Budget could address this gap

January 29, 2021 / 02:38 PM IST
Representative image (PC- MoneyControl.Com)

Representative image (PC- MoneyControl.Com)

Agriculture is the largest source of livelihood in India. Around 58 percent of those in agriculture depend on marginal and small farms of less than two hectares each. They account for the largest segment of India’s agriculture economy. Currently, the agriculture ecosystem has structural, policy and field-level policy intervention constraints for India to evolve into a globally competitive, commercially compliant and large-scale farming economy.

Agriculture also has a critical role in contributing to India achieving many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. Currently, the farmers themselves are drawing opportunities to enhance their livelihoods through aggregating themselves into farmer networks, undertaking cultivation, and adopting good agricultural practices in partnership with the private sector. This is also done by turning to the higher value and income-earning horticulture sector.

Today, growth in Gross Value Added in FY20 in agriculture and allied sectors stand at an impressive 4 percent, at Rs 19.48 lakh-crore. Over the last decade, the area under horticulture grew by 2.6 percent per annum, while annual production increased by 4.8 percent. That said, there is a critical concern of finding a market for surpluses stock. The Budget could focus on policies that will help encourage identifying such domestic and/or international markets.

India is the leading producer in banana, mango, papaya and guava, and stands next only to China in tomato, onion and potato. India has also the largest livestock population (~535.78 million), and leads in milk production across the world. Even with such high production, India’s share in world exports of these commodities or of value-added products is very low.