Farmer organizations and Agri experts prodded the finance ministry on Wednesday for MSP based on realistic production costs, higher diesel subsidies, and the inclusion of new technologies such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their pre-Budget consultation.
Pankaj Chaudhary and Bhagwat Karad, Ministers of State for Finance, held the first pre-Budget consultations via virtual mode with representatives of agriculture and the agro-processing industry.
P Chengal Reddy, Chief Adviser of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA), suggested that the government increase priority sector lending to agriculture by 25% in order to meet the target of doubling farmers’ income.
He proposed that the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, the government’s advisory body on crop price policy, be given autonomy in determining the minimum support price (MSP) by determining the realistic cost of production.
Reddy advocated for the use of ‘technologies, including GMOs,’ in a time-limited manner, to increase productivity. He advocated for immediate approval of ICRISAT ( International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics) and ICAR’s genetic technology.
CIFA also stated that steps should be taken to address the labour shortage and high labour costs. He proposed that MNREGA (The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005) be linked to all farming activities.
Furthermore, Reddy advocated for a reduction in pesticide taxes and the provision of 5,000 litres of diesel per season at a 50% subsidy for harvesting and transplanting. Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman of Krishak Samaj, tweeted that he took part in pre-Budget agricultural discussions.
‘The government must design a robust pre-budget consultation process and system to have beneficiaries assess programmes in order for departments to tweak and reset their own programmes for more positive outcomes,’ he said.
Chairman Jakhar stated that green revolution states ensured India’s food security ‘It is now time for the central government to fund a transition in green revolution states in order to ensure India’s food security. It should be noted that states are not in a position to share the cost of the transition.’ He also advocated for a food systems policy that takes both people’s and the planet’s health into account.
T V Somanathan, Finance Secretary and Secretary Expenditure; Ajay Seth, DEA Secretary; Tarun Bajaj, Revenue Secretary; and Rajesh Verma, MCA Secretary, were also present at the meeting.