Chennai, Jan 30 (IANS): If the lives of millions of marginalised farmers are better and their standard of living improves, India as a nation should be coasting easily towards the target of a $5 trillion economy in the near future, said a top official from Lawrencedale Agro Processing (LEAF).
"Farmers are and should be the centre of focus in all discussions, as they are the important stakeholders. Farmers are always confused by the various and frequent changes in the market on what will be the value for their harvest. We need to bring in significant transparency for them so that farmers can plan their livelihoods," Palat Vijayaraghavan, Founder & CEO, Lawrencedale Agro Processing (LEAF), told IANS on his expectations from the FY24 Union Budget to be presented on February 1.
Vijayaraghavan said the Indian agriculture sector is at significant cross-roads and there is explosion of private sector participation in agriculture.
"Many intermediaries in the farming sector are solely reliant on this sector and we need to bring in clarity as to how we can clear their confusion and empower all the stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem. No one should to lose their livelihoods and we must ensure that this is addressed," Vijayaraghavan added.
There are lots of contributions which the organised sector can make for the benefit of the farmers and to uplift the sector. There is immense knowledge base and capabilities in the organised sector, he said.
"However, these capabilities, which can be transformational, are not reaching the farmers enough. We should comprehensively address this gap for the benefit of the farmers and consumers," he added.
Vijayaraghavan said the organised sector players in the market must ensure that no one loses in the ecosystem and that should be done on an immediate basis to instil confidence in the farmers.
The other aspect which needs to be enabled is that of technology.
"It is not just enough for the farmers to be given a technology platform and let them work forward. We need strong brick and mortar support working parallelly to assure the farmers that we are working together," he said.
Another important cog in this whole puzzle is that how we can mainstream financial services to the agriculture sector, he said.
"It is high time we provide a slew of organised financial services to the marginalised farmers which can bring about significant improvements to the livelihoods of the marginalised farmers.
"There is pain for the marginalised farmer in each step. Right from soil preparation to choosing the various inputs for better cultivation of crops and till the last mile of liquidating the harvest, the farmer's lifecycle is always under strain. Given the fact that there is no authenticated trail of transactions, the process of securing organised financial offerings is tough.
"To handhold the farmers and for efficient use of organised and cost-effective financial support, we need corporates to closely work with the farmers with a scientific data-driven approach. We should ensure that they use only the right amount of crop protection and crop nutrition products, and this step will ensure that the harvest is safe-to-consume without overdose of chemical enhancements," Vijayaraghavan said.
As per a CARE Ratings survey, the agriculture sector Budget expectations include:
* Higher allocation of subsidies towards urea as well as non-urea fertilisers at a level of more than Rs 2,00,000 crore
* Special incentives to set up fertiliser plants in India to cut dependence on imports
* Reduction in duty on imports of ammonia and phosphoric acid to improve the competitiveness of domestic fertiliser manufacturers
* Incentives for the promotion of organic fertilisers