India's agriculture sector's annual budget has increased five-fold to Rs 1.25 lakh crore since 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, as he stressed that his government is focusing on progress of the farm sector and working on mission mode to reduce import dependence of food items like edible oils.
The Prime Minister was addressing a post-budget webinar on 'Agriculture and Cooperatives'. It is the second of a series of 12 post-budget webinars organized by the government to seek ideas and suggestions for the effective implementation of the initiatives announced in the Union Budget 2023.
Modi also outlined the various steps announced in the budget to attract young talent in the sector, and expansion of the cooperative sector across the country.
He stressed that various decisions are being continuously taken in the budget to promote the agricultural sector so that the nation becomes 'atmanirbhar' and the funds used for imports can reach farmers.
Highlighting the importance given to the farm sector in the budget as well as budgets of the past 8-9 years, he said the agricultural budget which was less than Rs 25,000 crore in 2014, has been increased to more than Rs 1.25 lakh crore now.
"Before we came to power in 2014, the budget for the agriculture sector was less than Rs 25,000 crore. Today the country's agriculture budget is more than Rs 1.25 lakh crore," the Prime Minister said as he highlighted the various aspects of the Union Budget 2023-24.
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"Every Budget in recent years has been called a budget for Gaon, Gareeb and Kisan," Modi said.
India's agricultural sector, he said, remained distressed for a long time since independence and pointed out the country's dependence on the outside world for food security.
The Prime Minister cited certain examples of expenditure made towards imports of agri products. He said Rs 17,000 crore was spent in 2021-22 for the import of pulses, Rs 25,000 crore for the import of Value Added Food Products, and Rs 1.5 lakh crore was spent on the import of edible oils in 2021-22.
The sum of agricultural imports was about Rs 2 lakh crore, he said.
Modi also talked about the various decisions being continuously taken in the budget to promote the agricultural sector and highlighted measures like increase in MSP, promotion of pulse production, increase in the number of food processing parks, and work in mission mode to become completely self-sufficient in terms of edible oil.
He also lauded farmers for transforming India's agriculture scenario by not only making the nation 'atmanirbhar' but also capable of exporting foodgrains.
"Today India is exporting many types of agricultural products," Modi said and added the government is taking efforts to make domestic and international markets accessible to farmers. He also stated that India's goal should not be limited to rice or wheat when it comes to self-sufficiency or export.
The Prime Minister underlined that the goal of complete development cannot be achieved until the challenges related to the agriculture sector are eliminated.
Further, he pointed out that private innovation and investment are keeping a distance from this sector which leads to low participation of India's youth in the agricultural sector compared to the other sectors which witness active participation and growth. He said various announcements have been made in the latest budget to fill this lacuna.
The Prime Minister also touched upon using drones for crop approximation while providing real-time information about weather changes.
Modi also talked in detail about the proposed accelerator funds for agri-tech startups in the Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 in the Lok Sabha.
The government, Modi said, is not only creating digital infrastructure but also preparing funding avenues. He urged the youth and young entrepreneurs to move forward and achieve their goals. He informed that India is home to more than 3,000 agri-startups today compared to next to nothing 9 years ago.
The Prime Minister touched upon the International Year of Millets and said that its international identity is opening a gateway to the global market for Indian farmers.
The country has now identified coarse grains as Shri Anna in this budget, the Prime Minister remarked. He said that Shri Anna is being promoted for the benefit of our small farmers as well as to increase the possibility of growth of startups in this sector.
Modi also explained the various initiatives of the government to promote the cooperative sector in the country.
A new revolution is taking place in the cooperative sector of India, he said. The cooperative movement is now spreading to the whole country and not limited to some states and some regions of the country anymore.
He informed that tax-related reliefs have been given to the cooperative sector in the budget which will benefit new cooperative societies engaged in manufacturing.
He said that TDS will not be levied on cash withdrawals up to Rs 3 crore by cooperative societies. The Prime Minister also mentioned the important decision of tax exemption given to the payment made by the sugar cooperative before 2016-17 and said that it will benefit the sugar cooperative to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore.
The Prime Minister also touched upon the PM Pranam Yojana and Gobardhan Yojana where the government is working towards promoting natural farming and reducing chemical-based farming.
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