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Pre-budget meet: Agri-experts demand scrapping GST on agri-inputs, revamp of PMFBY

Pre-budget meet: Agri-experts demand scrapping GST on agri-inputs, revamp of PMFBY
New Delhi, Dec 17 () The government should remove GST on agri-inputs, revamp crop insurance scheme, land lease rental while fixing MSP and ban futures trade on agri-commodities are some of the suggestions made by farm experts during pre-budget meeting with the Finance Minister on Tuesday.

Measures to promote organic farming, cut in import duty from 30 per cent to zero on live embryo, animal and semen, tweaking of electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) and revisiting of Food Security Act were some other recommendations made during the meeting, headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

This is the fourth pre-Budget meeting on agriculture and agro-processing sectors. Already, consultations with IT/start-ups, financial sector and industry have been held.

"There should be zero GST on every farm inputs such as fertilisers, seed and agri-equipments," Bharatiya Kisan Sangh's (BKS) Dinesh Kulkarni told reporters after the meeting.

He also said there should be no futures trading in agri-commodities as it does not benefit either consumers or farmers. He also urged the government to increase procurement of various crops at the minimum support price (MSP).

Bharat Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakkar demanded that the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) should be replaced with new crop insurance and compensation scheme or a set up a farmers disaster and distress relief commission.

He also said the government should reduce GST on processed food and dairy products to 5 per cent.

National Dairy Development Board Executive Director Arun Raste said, "We want import duty on live embryo, animal and semen to be reduced to zero. The government should also expedite implementation of National Dairy Plan (NDP-II) at the earliest and make a budgetary provision".

The NDP-II, which aims to boost productivity in dairy sector, is estimated to cost USD 1 billion, of which 50 per cent will be borne by the World Bank and 30 per cent by the Centre and remaining 20 per cent by NDDB.

Consortium of Indian Farmers' Association (CIFA) Secretary General B D Rami Reddy said the government should consider lease rental cost while determining MSP for crops as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.

Other stakeholders pitched for building brands of Indian agricultural products abroad, accelerate depreciation benefit to agri-processing industry, encourage development of farm eco-system services and market intelligence systems.

They also recommended development of agro-medicinal forestry, crop diversification, revisiting of Food Security Act, extending subsidy to producers of green manure, bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides besides steps for promoting large scale production of compost by utilisation of urban solid waste.

The farm experts also felt the need for expansion of multi-dimensional research in agriculture sector for development of new technologies and further suggested for promoting start-ups in institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and agriculture universities for young students.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and senior officials from finance, agriculture, consumer affairs, food processing, animal husbandry ministries as well as Niti Aayog.

There were representatives from National Cooperative Union of India, South Indian Sugarcane Farmers Association, Kisan Foundation, IFFCO, All India Spices Exporter Forum, NCDEX, Indian School of Business, Irrigation Association of India, National rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) and NABARD among many others. MJH LUX CS LUX BAL BAL

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