Farmer organisations and agri experts on Wednesday pressed for MSP based on realistic cost of production, higher subsidies on diesel and allowing new technologies like genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their pre-Budget submission to the finance ministry.
Ministers of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary and Bhagwat Karad held the first pre-Budget consultations with representatives of agriculture and agro processing industry through virtual mode.
In order to achieve the target of doubling farmers’ income, Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA) Chief Adviser P Chengal Reddy said the government should increase priority sector lending to agriculture by 25 per cent.
He suggested that the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, which is the government’s advisory body on price policy for crops, should be made autonomous for fixing the minimum support price (MSP) by ascertaining realistic cost of production.
Reddy pitched for allowing “technologies including GMO” in time-bound manner to boost productivity. He favoured immediate approval for genetic technology developed by ICRISAT and ICAR.
CIFA also said steps should be taken to solve labour shortage and high labour cost. He suggested MNREGA should be linked to all farming activities.
Besides, Reddy sought reduction in taxes on pesticides and recommended provision of 5,000 litres diesel per season for harvesting and transplanting at 50 per cent subsidy.
Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar tweeted that he participated in the pre-Budget discussions on agriculture.
“Govt. needs to design a robust pre-budget consultation process + system to have beneficiaries assess programs to enable departments to tweak & reset their own programs for more positive outcomes,” he said.
Stating that green revolution states ensured India’s food security, Jakhar said “it’s now time for central Govt. to fund a transition in green revolution states to ensure India’s nutrition security. Do note, states are in no condition to share the cost of the transition.” He also called for a food systems policy which considers health of the people and planet as one.
Finance Secretary and Secretary Expenditure T V Somanathan; Secretary, DEA, Ajay Seth; Secretary, Revenue, Tarun Bajaj and Secretary, MCA, Rajesh Verma were also present in the meeting.