First Pre-Budget Consultation on Agricultural and Rural Development.

The Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, started her Pre-Budget Consultations with different stakeholder Groups in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2019-20 here today. Her First Meeting was with the stakeholder Groups from Agriculture and Rural Development Sectors.

In her Opening Remarks, the Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman focussed on the measures to boost Economic and Social Infrastructure of Rural Sector and ways to eradicate unemployment and poverty through the development of Agriculture and Allied Sectors as well as Non-Farm Sector. She said that the concerns of Agriculture Sector are high on the priority of the present Government She stressed on the representation of the different Regions of the country so that their specific needs relating to these sectors can also be considered. The Finance Minister said that the Ministry will also hold broad-based consultations with different stakeholders from the fisheries sector to bring about a blue revolution by optimally using our maritime resources.

 The Finance Minister also stressed upon encouraging start-ups which can remove the segmentation in the agriculture market and help in providing remunerative markets for agriculture products and supplying it to the final consumers at reasonable prices. The main areas of discussion during the meeting included agriculture research & extension services, rural development, non-farm sector, horticulture, food processing, animal husbandry, fisheries and start-ups in agricultural sector among others.

During the meeting representatives of the Agricultural and Rural Development sectors submitted various suggestions to boost investment in the agricultural sector and enhance market access to farmers. Suggestions were given to improve food processing sector and introduction of technology-intensive processes in the non-farm sector. It was also suggested that solar energy may be treated as the third crop to augment the income of farmers.

Incentivising and popularising usage of organic manure for improving the carbon content in the soil, resolving GST issues related to Farmers Producers Organisations (FPO), an incentive for agro-processing units in the border districts and enhancing investments in R&D in agriculture centre. Other suggestions include, filling up of vacancies in agricultural universities, increasing investment in micro-irrigation and solar pumps, financial incentives to the states for implementing agricultural market reforms, promotion of handlooms and handicrafts in the North Eastern states for employment generation and enhancing rural income, creating of aggregators for farm equipment and promotion of non-IT related rural start-ups. Few suggestions for the dairy sector were also submitted related to tax and duty structure and improving Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY).

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