Finance Minister Nirmala Sithraman’s announcement on the third tranche of allocation focused on agriculture is indicative of the fact that finally, the country is taking the right direction of development.
The self-reliance call has given much priority to agriculture in this allocation for Atmanirbhar Bharat. What’s encouraging to see is there is more for small farmers- this comprises or covers more than 85% of the farming community. The announcements made on herbal plan, bee-farming, processing, subsidies are going to go a long way in confidence building of the farmers.
The sustainable way to face such crisis is agriculture. This is what we all have felt during this period of lockdown. And with this allocation it has given it more credence – agriculture is the most sustainable way to help in crisis or face crisis.
At this time of crisis, we saw that nothing worked except Agriculture. The government rightfully allowed agricultural work and transport of agricultural goods as priority. Through the slew of measures announced by the FM it redefined farming and not only focused its announcements on cultivation. The mention of herbal agriculture, processing, marketing, animal husbandry, bee keeping, fishery and even agri-business is tapping the new areas.
The government has announced 1 lakh crore agri-infrastrure Fund, it is a right decision, but it should not be limited to organised big farmers alone. The Fund must cover small farmers, and even rural may be included in this scheme.
What I see is that Rs 10,000 crore for micro food enterprises is going to be a game changer. It may work miraculously if implemented. FSSAI may fix the standards for Micro Food Enterprise but the KCC number should be tagged to involve the farmers directly in this business.
The call for ‘Vocal for Local’ will be more successful if entire production, storage, processing and branding be as per the Agro-climatic zones. This is going to be truly local then.
Allocation for PMMSY, animal husbandry infrastructure, and bee keeping initiatives may address the issue of landless farmers or less land farmers, even if more people stay back home after the corona lockdown, they can avail benefits from these allocations along with the benefits that will come with expansion of operation green, cold chain, insurance for animals are also good decisions.
Even more barren lands are due to migration to urban activities. So those people may be included in the new schemes like traditional herbal plantations. It will enhance more land use and more herbal production. Because people will be more serious for ‘KADHA’ preparations in future.
While amending Essential Commodities Act farmers’ interests should be taken care of minutely because nowadays farmers are producer for small number of crops and consumer of more number of crops.
All in all the government has made great decision which may work magically in building faith and confidence among the farmers about their development.
(The author is All India Secretary Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. Views expressed are personal)