Budget 2024: Govt to focus on reducing losses, improving productivity to boost agriculture and farmer income
Interim Budget 2024 placed emphasis on the welfare of farmers and boosting post-harvest activities.
“Farmers are our annadata,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while presenting the Interim Budget on Thursday. Annadata—the provider of food—was among the four main focus areas for the upcoming financial year, which include the poor, women, and youth.
This year, the government will focus on stepping up efforts to boost farmers’ income and the agricultural sector by focusing on reducing post-harvest losses and improving productivity.
To ensure faster growth of the sector, the government will further promote private and public investment in post-harvest activities, including aggregation, modern storage, efficient supply chains, primary and secondary processing, and marketing and branding, said the finance minister.
Sitharaman said the government will also double down on its use of nano urea—which is claimed to boost crop yield and plant absorption through application of nano DAP on various crops—by expanding to agro-climatic zones.
The Budget also outlined a strategy to achieve atmanirbharta for oil seeds such as mustard, groundnut, sesame, soybean, and sunflower.
“This will cover research for high-yielding varieties, widespread adoption of modern farming techniques, market linkages, procurement, value addition, and crop insurance,” it noted.
The government has also committed to formulating a comprehensive programme for supporting dairy farmers by building on existing schemes such Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Livestock Mission, and Infrastructure Development Funds for dairy processing and animal husbandry.
Implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana will be stepped up to enhance aquaculture productivity from existing 3 tonnes to 5 tonnes per hectare, double exports to Rs 1 lakh crore, and generate 55 lakh employment opportunities in near future.
The allocation for Blue Revolution will be increased to Rs 2,352 crore in 2024-25 from Rs 2,025 crore in 2023-24. A total of Rs 1.27 lakh crore will be allocated to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare in 2024-25, said Sitharaman.
Every year, the Prime Minister Kisan Samman Yojana provides direct financial support to over 11.8 crore farmers, including small and marginal farmers. Crop insurance is offered to 4 crore farmers under the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana. All these programmes are helping farmers provide food for the country and the world, noted Sitharaman.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana has already benefitted 38 lakh farmers and generated employment for 10 lakh people. Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Yojana has assisted 2.4 lakh self-help groups (SHGs) and 60,000 individuals with credit linkages, she added.
The setting up of a separate department for fisheries has resulted in the doubling of both inland and aquaculture production. Seafood export since 2013-14 has also doubled, according to the government.
Reacting to the Budget announcements, Sat Kumar Tomar, Founder and CEO of Satyukt Analytics, a decision analytics firm that works with firms across sectors, including agriculture, said, “The commitment to direct financial assistance for 11.8 crore farmers under the PM Kisan Samman Yojana reflects a dedication to enhancing the 3Ps of agricultural business: productivity, predictability, and profitability. However, the industry was expecting more industry-centric announcements in this Budget to further catalyse growth and innovation in the agricultural sector.”
Moreover, the lack of a clear focus on subsidy-based machinery for sustainable agriculture is a concern, according to Prasanthi Rathnala, Founder and Chairperson of Farminno Tech. This omission could hinder the adoption of modern and eco-friendly farming practices, impacting the sector's long-term sustainability, Rathnala added.
The budget also falls short of establishing a direct linkage between startups in the education sector and farmers. “Connecting educational initiatives with practical farming applications is crucial for empowering farmers with the latest knowledge and techniques,” Rathnala said.
(The story was updated with comments from Farminno Tech)
Edited by Megha Reddy