Whatever best was possible for agriculture has been done
I refer to the news article titled “Agriculture gets what it already had; no major scheme or allocation” published on this website on February 2, 2021. As opined in the article, there are no major schemes or allocations to agriculture in Budget 2021-22. But, if you see practically, under various heads, whatever best was possible in this Covid-19 pandemic situation has been done. In my opinion, agriculture has been given priority.
In this tough time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, going by the way economies of countries across the world have fared, in my opinion, nothing better would have been possible. But then it’s an individual’s view. In my opinion, the central government is investing a huge amount in the infrastructure sector. For the sake of the infrastructure sector, our fiscal deficit, which was so far kept under control, has also been allowed to cross the 3 per cent limit. And we simply do not know where our fiscal deficit will go.
There is a piece of news from Madhya Pradesh (MP) of small ponds by which an additional 2.5 lac hectare area is coming under agriculture and the major investment is under MGNREGA. If you like the idea, recommend that major MGNREGA funds should be invested in renovating existing ponds or creating new ponds. Once our overall area of agriculture comes under irrigation, we can reap dividends. Wherever irrigation has come, farmer income has automatically doubled. So, it may be a good initiative.
I am not going scheme by scheme, but the initiative of farmer producer organizations (FPOs) is the future path of uniting farmers as the earlier system of cooperatives (barring very few examples like the one of Amul) has failed because of the politicization of the cooperatives. FPOs are registered under the Companies Act and they will be working under the Act. Their filing of returns is mandatory and the private sector will come forward for the support of the same. Regarding food subsidy also, all of us know what the real picture is and we certainly cannot allow the leakage of public funds. As per information, all of us know how the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is managed and what the reasons for the huge losses are.
Finally, I will like to comment that agriculture is a priority sector. If earlier, farmers had one choice, they now have five choices. It needs to be clarified whether farmers are not understanding this or they are being misguided. Examples are there of the earlier monopoly of vehicles, telephones, transportation, airlines, etc. But when these fields opened, with the competition, you can see the improvements. When competition will come in the agriculture sector, there will be a lot of improvement in this sector also.
(R G Agarwal is the Chairman of the Dhanuka Group. The views here are personal.)