The Finance Minister has highlighted seven priorities in Budget 2023-24, including inclusive development, green growth and youth power.
As agriculture is an integral part of inclusive development, the budget gives focus to animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries; setting up digital infrastructure for agriculture; and production of millets.
The focus on the agriculture and allied sectors is reflected in following ways:
- Creation of digital infrastructure for agriculture: This has been adopted as a public policy measure for the first time.
- It is likely to promote and support the growth of the agri-tech industry and start-ups, generate market intelligence, and provide improved access to farm inputs.
- Millet production: A focus on millet production will make India a global hub for millets, and provide not only affordable and nutritious food to consumers but also resilient income to farmers.
- Promoting farmer producer organizations: The budget has increased the allocation for promoting farmer producer organization.
- Export of marine products: The duty on key inputs for the domestic manufacture of shrimp feed has been reduced in order to increase exports of marine products.
- Agriculture credit: Agriculture credit has been hiked with greater emphasis on animal husbandry and fisheries.
- Primary Agriculture Societies: The allocation for primary agricultural credit societies has been raised, with additional emphasis on digitisation.
- The allocation for the Department of Agricultural Research has witnessed a significant hike.
Cause of Concern in Budgetary Allocation
- Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare: The government has reduced allocation, signifying withdrawal of the Centre from the agriculture sector.
- Flagship scheme allocation: Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) has seen its allocation reduce by 31.5 per cent this fiscal year.
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi has seen reduction by 11.7 per cent.
- The National Beekeeping Honey Mission has got no allocation this year.
- RKVY renewed and the Krishionnati Yojana, which were further disaggregated into oilseeds, digital agriculture, agriculture extension, agriculture marketing etc in 2022-23, have not been acknowledged in this budget.
- Without disintegration, it becomes a problem to track relative resource allocation among non-cereal crops — oilseeds, pulses and horticultural crops.
- Even though the Budget includes several proposals that can propel agriculture growth, it does not provide the structural shift that ensures that the sector moves on a path of long-term, sustainable growth.