Farmers’ unions allege Budget 2022 ‘attitude of revenge’ while few corporate players praise the budget.
Agriculture and allied activities, which continue to employ the majority of the workforce, saw a 2% increase in budget allocations for 2022-23. The sector’s share of overall Budget allocations fell from 4.26 percent in 2021-22 to 3.84 percent in 2022-23.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced high amounts of payment for rice and paddy procurement at the minimum support price (MSP), and her speech focused on agricultural technology and start-ups, which excited the budding industry. Farmers’ groups, on the other hand, expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of support for the procurement of produce other than rice and paddy, as well as the reduction in fertilizer subsidies. The Centre’s goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, which has been a recurring theme in recent Budget speeches, was not mentioned this time.
The Blue Revolution initiative to improve fisheries infrastructure, aquaculture, and seafood processing is one of the few that saw a significant increase in funding. The Fisheries Department’s budget nearly doubled from ₹1,220 crores in 2021-22 to ₹2,118 crores in 2022-23.
‘The procurement of wheat in Rabi cropping season 2021-22 and the estimated procurement of paddy in Kharif 2021-22 will cover 1,208 lakh metric tonnes of wheat and paddy from 163 lakh growers, as well as ₹2.37 lakh crore direct payment of MSP value to their accounts,’ the Finance Minister stated.
‘These figures represent a significant decrease from 2020-21 when 1,286 lakh metric tonnes were obtained from 197 lakh farmers and ₹2.48 lakh crores were paid to the farmers.’ According to an assessment by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, ‘the number of benefited farmers in 2021-22 has decreased by 17%, and the quantity procured has decreased by 7% from 2020-21.’ (SKM).
Farm unions were enraged by the failure to recognize agricultural spending.’ It is clear from this Budget that the government is acting with a revenge mindset toward farmers.’ It has failed to fulfill its promise to double farm incomes by this year,’ said Rakesh Tikait, leader of an Uttar Pradesh faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). The failure to increase PM-KISAN payouts, the reduction of the PM-ASHA scheme budget from ₹400 crore to ₹1 crore, and low levels of disbursement from the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund were identified as critical issues.
The agricultural industry, on the other hand, was generally pleased with the announcements. R.G. Agarwal, chairman of Dhanuka Agritech Group, praised the government’s emphasis on infrastructure and the promotion of drones for farm activities. ‘However, it would have been equally appropriate if the Finance Minister had reduced the GST and customs duty rates on some of the agro-chemical products, lowering the overall cost for farmers,’ he added.
‘The announcement in this year’s Budget on boosting the provision of digital and hi-tech services to farmers via PPP (public-private partnership) model will go a long way toward helping Indian farmers reap the benefits of technological advancements,’ said D. Narain, president of Bayer South Asia.
‘Major initiatives such as encouraging the use of ‘Kisan drones,’ funds to finance agritech start-ups and rural enterprises, supporting FPOs (Farmer Producer Organizations) through these enterprises, and increasing domestic oilseed cultivation have the potential to benefit the sector,’ he added.