Adopt tech-based agriculture to double farmers’ income: Jaitley

indo-asian news service

New Delhi, Nov 19: In order to double the farmers’ income by 2022, it is necessary to focus on adaptation of the latest technology and other methods to increase agricultural productivity, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Saturday.

“The focus should be on higher agriculture productivity especially in view of the limitation on expanding crop area,” Jaitley said at the first pre-budget consultative meeting with the representatives of agriculture groups here.

“It is possible by leveraging technology — especially for high yielding and resistant variety seeds — and efficient utilisation of water for irrigation, adapt latest IT to increase resilience to nature by phasing sowing, watering and harvesting among others,” he said.

Jaitley said that to increase price benefits to the farmers, it is necessary the farmers are provided timely market information. Software applications, both computer and mobile based, should be developed that link farmers to consumers, he said.

He said that along with the use of latest technology to raise productivity, there is need to revisit the incentive structure of farming, focus on reducing wastages, enhance earnings and improve marketing of farm produce.

“For efficient implementation of the National Agriculture Market, there is need to integrate more than 550 regulated mandis in the country by next year for which the states need to reform the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) Act,” Jaitley said.

Many suggestions were received from the representatives of different agriculture groups, including the need to provide sufficient funds to district cooperative banks where most of the farmers have their bank accounts, the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

Other suggestions included making it mandatory for agriculture universities to start Agriculture Marketing Research Department, new schemes to bail-out farmers from debt and banks be directed to implement scheme of differential rate of interest to agriculture sector both in letter and spirit among others, it said.

“Suggestions also include announcement of awards for those who do new technological innovations in agriculture sector, cold chain provision for horticulture and minor vegetables, higher allocation in budget for agriculture as 52 per cent of India’s population is based on agriculture and allied sector,” the statement said.

The representatives of different agriculture groups present during the meeting included Swabhimani Paksha President Raju Shetti, National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) Chief Executive Satya Narayana, Venkatrao Nadagouda of Federation of Oilseeds Cooperative Growers of India, United Planters Association of South India President D. Vinod Sivappa, Cargill India Pvt. Ltd. Chairman & MD Siraj Chaudhary.

Consortium of Indian Farmers Association Secretary General Bojja Dashratha Rami Reddy, Bharat Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar, Satish Chander of Fertiliser Association of India, Kisan Foundation Chairman Y. Sivaji and Mukul Maheshwary of Agriculture Farm were also present among others.

Box:

Allow old notes for agri input buys: Farmers

New Delhi: Farmer associations today demanded that the government should allow use of the banned 500 and 1,000 rupee notes to buy seeds and fertiliser till December 30, saying peasants are short of cash and have no takers for their crop. The government has allowed use of the old notes for certain utility payments till November 24, but has so far not agreed to the same for purchase of agri inputs like seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in his first pre-Budget consultation, was flooded with representations from the farmer bodies to ease cash crunch by allowing cooperative banks to exchange and accept old notes and dispense more new currency at wholesale mandis. They also sought removal of anomalies in the draft GST Bill, higher budget allocation for agri research and better implementation of existing farm schemes. Briefing the media after the meeting, Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA) General Secretary B D Rami Reddy said, “Timing of demonetisation is not correct. Kharif crops are arriving in the market, but there are no buyers because of lack of cash. Rabi sowing has started and farmers need cash for buying various inputs like seeds, fertilisers and water.” Stating that farmers transact in “100 per cent cash”, he added, that if the exemption was not given, it will “have a very bad impact on agriculture production and the overall economy.” Echoing his point, Bharat Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar said, “Demonetisation worries require immediate attention. Restrictions on exchanging and accepting old currency notes imposed on district cooperative banks must be removed immediately.” This can be done in branches which are electronically connected to the apex bank, RBI, he suggested. Also on his wish list is higher cash availability to APMC markets to the tune of 15 per cent of the trader’s weekly average turnover recorded in APMC books last fiscal. “It will revive stagnating flow of perishable fruits and vegetables,” he reasoned.—PTI

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