Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman started this year’s budget speech by naming the accomplishments of the government. She hailed the achievements in the areas of digital public infrastructure, Covid vaccination, climate related goals and more. Contrary to the expectations of the budget 2023
being a populist one owing to the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2024, she made it evident from the very beginning that the government’s focus was on accelerating the economic growth
With sharp focus on infrastructure and investment, the budget is likely to give a fillip to growth and employment. At the same time, policies aimed at enabling environmentally sustainable growth will bring the country closer to achieving the set goal of reducing Emissions Intensity of the GDP by 45 percent by 2030. Without ruling out the budget’s benefits to any industrial sector, let us have a look at those which are liable to profit the most.
Agriculture: Boosting Accessibility and Inclusion
Agriculture plays an important role in the Indian economy. More than 70 percent of rural households depend on agriculture for their livelihood. The sector contributes to more than 19 percent of GDP and provides employment for about 45 percent of the population. Improvements in road and power generation infrastructure, access to knowledge and reforms have allowed India to increase agricultural productivity.
However, India's recent achievements in crop yields, while impressive, still represent only 30 to 60 percent of the optimal crop yields achievable on farms in developed and other developing countries. Furthermore, despite improvements in agricultural productivity, post-harvest losses due to poor infrastructure and disorganized retail trade mean that India experiences one of the worst food losses in the world.
To solve the existing challenges in the agriculture sector, finance minister introduced several commendable reforms. She proposed for a digital public infrastructure to be built which will be accessible, inclusive and informative solution for farmers.
“Digital public infrastructure for agriculture will be built as an open source, open standard and inter operable public good. This will enable inclusive, farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for growth of agri-tech industry and start-ups,” she said in her budget speech.
The agricultural credit target is going to be increased to Rs 20 lakh crore which will be aimed at animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries sector. Moreover, an Agriculture Accelerator Fund is going to be set-up to support agri-startups founded by young entrepreneurs in rural areas.
The focus will be on bringing innovative and affordable solutions for challenges faced by farmers. In addition, an Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Program will be launched to enhance availability of disease-free, quality planting material for high value horticultural crops. The program will materialize at an outlay of Rs 2,200 crore.