Chennai, February 01, 2017: The Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley today, moved forward on the ‘agri-budget’ focus reflected last year. ‘Farmers’ and ‘rural development’ are two key themes of the Budget. This shows the Government’s continued emphasis on agriculture and allied sectors.
In a statement issued about the Budget, Prof M S Swaminathan, Founder MSSRF said “The Finance Minister has reiterated the Government’s resolve to help farmers double their income in another four years.” However, he also voiced his concern on agricultural commodity pricing. “In the area of pricing, it is high time that the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) to provide the minimum price of C2 (i.e. total cost of production) plus 50 percent are implemented. This has been the demand of farmers all over the country.”
MSSRF welcomes the announcement of a model law for contract farming as it is important in protecting rights of farmers and ensuring a principle of win-win for farmers and contractors.
In a scenario where water management is critical for livelihood, especially for farming and allied sectors, the emphasis on ‘drought-proofing’ gram panchayats through leveraging NREGA funds is timely. Also providing 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with broadband will ensure their greater participation in the digital economy and in the growing agricultural e-nam market.
In the area of Skill Development for Rural Youth, building their skills in modern agricultural methods, including using of agricultural equipments, their maintenance and repairs can create employment opportunities. This is because farming in India is being mechanized on a large scale. An area that could have been provided focus in the Budget is climate change, which has not been mentioned.
In the words of Prof Swaminathan, “Overall, the budget is characterized by the right emphasis in addressing the agrarian crisis. What is important is conversion of the idea to field level action with the help of State Governments, Indian Council of Agriculture Research and Agriculture Universities.” Effective implementation will make a huge difference in our country’s farm families.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.