Here are some reactions to the budget from companies engaged in agriculture or with farmers. The quotes have been lightly edited for style and brevity.
Balram Yadav, MD, Godrej Agrovet, a company engaged in oil palm cultivation and processing, production of animal feed and poultry rearing: It is a balanced budget supporting agriculture sector with incentives and technological fillip. The inter-linking of Ken and Betwa rivers will improve farming and livelihoods of the local population. The decision to revise the syllabi of agricultural universities, and the use of drones for crop assessment, digitisation of land records and spraying of insecticides is a step in the right direction to modernise the agriculture sector. Putting post offices on the core banking platform will provide an impetus to financial inclusion in rural areas. There were expectations which have not found space in the budget, but as the FM stated, it’s a budget that looks at overcoming the pangs of the pandemic and focuses on the next 25 years of growth.
Rajesh Ranjan, Founder, Krishify, a networking app for farmers: It was exciting to hear the government taking interest in digital services and digital records. I am keen to see the steps that will be taken to bring these initiatives to reality. As the founder of an agri-tech startup, I was elated to hear about digital distribution through public private partnership mode. We would be very interested in it. Great initiatives have been taken to promote gadgets and technology such as farm drones for crop assessment and spraying of pesticides. Also, digitisation of land records will bring more transparency to the agriculture sector.
Kishor Jha, CEO & Founder, Ergos, The Grainbank, which helps farmers store produce scientifically and helps them obtain finance against warehouse receipts: The budget will be a game changer for the agriculture sector. Installation of optical fibres across rural hinterlands will bring uninterrupted access to digital services and ensure the best returns for their produce. Farmers will be able to move from farm-gate to the end buyer directly and efficiently. They will be able to access small credit from banks. The decision to transfer MSP directly into farmers’ bank accounts is laudable and ensures that services reach every individual farmer. It’s time that fintech services are made easily available to farmers; this budget promises that. The blended finance co-investment model facilitated through Nabard to finance start-ups in agriculture and rural enterprises will make them scalable and sustainable and boost their impact.
Jinesh Shah, Managing Partner, Omnivore, a venture capital fund for agri-startups: The budget will steer the country into a greener future. Acknowledging the impact of global warming, the rising cost of cultivation and concerns around human and planetary health, sustainable agriculture has been pushed to the centre stage. It is an important step towards climate-proofing Indian agriculture and securing the livelihoods of millions of smallholders in the country. A blended capital fund under Nabard is also interesting as it can provide FPOs with much-needed assistance. Keeping up with the times, the government’s support for drone use in agriculture and stressing the role of start-ups in facilitating ‘drone shakti’ is a great leap forward for driving precision farming at scale. I congratulate the FM for delivering a balanced budget that addresses the current challenges in the economy.
Vimal Alawadhi, MD, Best Agrolife, a crop protection chemical company: Though we expected various measures for the Indian agrochemical industry, there was no announcement regarding the industry’s growth. Similarly, the farm sector was also eagerly waiting for reforms to reduce the cost of farm inputs and modern technologies required for increasing the farmer’s income and pushing up the agriculture sector’s growth beyond 3.9 percent. In line with the Government’s focus on modern-day agriculture, we will continue educating farmers about the judicious use of safe agrochemicals.
(Top photo only for representation)