New Delhi: The Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, started her Pre-Budget Consultations with different stakeholder Groups in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2019-20 here today. Her First Meeting was with the stakeholder Groups from Agriculture and Rural Development Sectors.
In her Opening Remarks, the Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman focussed on the measures to boost Economic and Social Infrastructure of Rural Sector and ways to eradicate unemployment and poverty through development of Agriculture and Allied Sectors as well as Non-Farm Sector. She said that the concerns of Agriculture Sector are high on the priority of the present Government She stressed on the representation of the different Regions of the country so that their specific needs relating to these sectors can also be considered. The Finance Minister said that the Ministry will also hold broad based consultations with different stakeholders from fisheries sector to bring about blue revolution by optimally using our maritime resources.
The Finance Minister, Smt Sitharaman also stressed upon encouraging start-ups which can remove the segmentation in agriculture market and help in providing remunerative markets for agriculture products and supplying it to the final consumers at reasonable prices.
The main areas of discussion during the meeting included agriculture research & extension services, rural development, non-farm sector, horticulture, food processing, animal husbandry, fisheries and start-ups in agricultural sector among others..
Along with the Finance Minister, the meeting was attended by Shri Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Dr Ramesh Chandra, Member, NITI Aayog, Shri Subhash C. Garg, Finance Secretary, Shri Girish Chandra Murmu, Expenditure Secretary, Shri Ajay Narayan Pandey, Revenue Secretary, Shri Rajeev Kumar, Secretary, DFS, Shri Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation, Shri Amarjeet Sinha Secretary, Department of Rural Development, Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & Director General, Indian Council for Agri Research, Dr K.V. Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor, Shri Tarun Shridhar, Secretary, ADF, Ministry of Agriculture, Smt. Rajni Sekhri Sibal, Secretary, Department of Fishries, Shri Pramod Chandra Mody, Chairperson, CBDT and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance among others.
During the meeting representatives of the Agricultural and Rural Development sectors submitted various suggestions to boost investment in agricultural sector and enhance market access to farmers. Suggestions were given to improve food processing sector and introduction of technology-intensive processes in non-farm sector. It was also suggested that solar energy may be treated as third crop to augment income of farmers. Incentivising and popularising usage of organic manure for improving carbon content in soil, resolving GST issues related to Farmers Producers Organisations (FPO), incentive for agro processing units in the border districts and enhancing investments in R&D in agriculture centre. Other suggestions include , filling up of vacancies in agricultural universities, increasing investment in micro irrigation and solar pumps, financial incentives to the states for implementing agricultural market reforms, promotion of handlooms and handicrafts in the North Eastern states for employment generation and enhancing rural income, creating of aggregators for farm equipment and promotion of non-IT related rural start-ups. Few suggestions for dairy sector were also submitted related to tax and duty structure and improving Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY).
Representatives of different agriculture and rural development sector included Shri Crispino Lobo, Managing Trustee, Watershed Organisation Trust, Shri N. Satya Narayan, Chief Executive, National Cooperative Union of India, Shri A.E. Joseph, president, United Planters Association of South India, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, Shri Tushar Shah, Senior Fellow, International Water Management Institute, Prog. R. Parthasarathy, Director, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Shri Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj (Farmer’s Forum India), Shri Madan Diwan, Social Economist, Shri Usman Hassan, CEO, Universal Biotech, Dr K.P. Vishwanatha, Vice-Chancellor, Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD, Shri Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, Confederation of Indian Industry, Shri Ashwini Chhatre, Associate Professor (Public Policy), ISB, Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member, Niti Aayog among many others.