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Agri industry & experts give mixed bag of response on budget

Agri industry & experts give mixed bag of response on budget
New Delhi, Feb 1 () Agri experts and industry players on Saturday gave a mixed reaction to the budget proposals, saying the government did not announce any major structural reforms to increase farmers' income.

Farmers' body India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) called a nation-wide protest on February 13 to protest against the "pro-corporate" budget.

Industry players observed that the government failed to bring reforms in the Essential Commodities Act. There were few schemes to spur private investment and capital formation in the agriculture space.

However, fertiliser cooperative major IFFCO welcomed proposal of exempting cooperative societies from minimum alternate tax and also bringing tax rate for cooperative societies to 22 per cent from 30 per cent.

"These steps will indeed help the cooperatives to work in a dynamic manner and can bring more innovations for the farmers of country," IFFCO Managing Director U S Awasthi said in a statement.

Hailing the Budget, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) Chairman Dilip Rath said: "18 per cent increase in allocation of funds to Animal Husbandry and Dairying sector to Rs 3,289 crore for the 2020-21 fiscal as against the revised budget estimate for 2019-20 is remarkable which recognizes that dairy sector is increasingly becoming an important sector for the economy, especially for the rural areas."

The measures announced will help sustain growth of milk production by more than 6 per cent and also reinforces the intent of the government that the dairy sector continues to play a stellar role in realising the goal of doubling farmers' income, he added.

Stating that the budget was a "mixed bag" for agriculture, the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) Director General Ram Kaundinya said it is "disappointing" to note the continued emphasis on Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) as a panacea for farmers.

"While the FM said that they wanted to make the Indian farmer competitive, she did not talk anything about using modern science and technology in seeds, increasing farm mechanization and other inputs which are essential for this," he added.

Edible oil industry body SEA said it was expecting at least this year the government will come out with a package of incentives for higher production and productivity of oilseeds to reduce our dependence on import of edible oils.

NCDEX MD & CEO Vijay Kumar said allocation of Rs 2.83 lakh crore to agriculture, irrigation and rural development will provide impetus in re-energizing the sector.

For DCM Shriram Chairman and Senior Managing Director Ajay Shriram, it was a "balanced budget" which has tried to move the needle in different areas while maintaining the fiscal prudence.

NCML Chairman Sanjay Kaul said this is a refreshing change from the previous budget which had limited new schemes for agriculture.

However, the agri-industry would be disappointed with no reforms announced in the Essential Commodities Act and minimal schemes to spur private investment and capital formation in the agri space, he said.

Ajay Kakra of PwC India said, "Systematic coverage of agriculture sector through the 16-point agenda reflects an definite intention to bring fundamental development in agriculture and allied sector. Covering allied sector and important thematic areas can surely work towards aspirational agenda of the government."

Cargill India President Simon George said, "Agriculture being the backbone of the nation it would be significant to see how the government would push the Krishi Udaan on not just national but international routes and enabling agri and farmers to be part of the global value chains, providing enormous value addition for farmers and the economy."

LT Foods Ltd Managing Director and CEO Ashwani Arora said the government's efforts to provide impetus to the agri sector are "laudable" but one key area which remained untouched was the direct benefit to companies working in the area of agri-extension and directly engaging with farmers to educate and enhance their knowledge on advancing technologies.

"We were also hoping for subventions and incentivisation to agri-export companies. Both these were seemingly left out," he added.

Farm machinery maker CLAAS Managing Director Mrityunjaya Singh said: "Adoption of Model agricultural laws, agricultural credit availability of 15 lakh crore and allocation of 2.83 lakh crore will encourage farmers to adopt latest farming machinery and technology. This will upskill the farming sector in India."

SLCM Group CEO Sandeep Sabharwal said it's a "Kisan friendly, while KisanKraft Ltd MD and founder Ravindra Agrawal said it was "mixed bag".

"For achieving the goal of doubling the farmer's income, training farmers on best package of practice, MSP revision is necessary," he said.

Netafim Agricultural Financing Agency Pvt CEO Prabhat Chaturvedi said, "NABARD initiative to create an e-portal of geo-tagged, WDRA-compliant warehouses, integrated with eNAM, is a welcome step, which will help in better prices as well as warehouse-receipt financing for farmers."

SourceTrace Vice President Marketing Om Routray said: "The budget has been favourable thus far towards agriculture and allied sectors. There is a good focus on using technology to develop agriculture in India."

Aadvik Foods Co-founder Shrey Kumar said: "Overall the budget looks positive towards start-ups and improving the logistics and infrastructure of the agriculture segment."

The setting up of cold chain infrastructure in the country is much needed and it is good to hear that government is planning to improve the same, Kumar added.

Garware Technical Fibres CEO Shujaul Rehman said, "Sagar Mitras is an appreciative initiative for rural youth in fisheries. Thus fish farming is now a thriving sector and we see the sector GDP and turnover graph ascending with time."

World Gold Council India Managing Director Somasundaram PR said: "Measures to boost farmers' income and reduce taxes for the middle class will boost purchasing power and consumer confidence, which will benefit jewellery industry as well." LUX MR

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