Budget 2017 to give fillip to agri sector: Experts
NEW DELHI: Agri-industry and farm experts today hailed the Budget for 2017-18 saying that though not a “big game changer” but will give a fillip to the farm and allied sector even as they urged for better implementation of schemes.
Edible oil industry body SEA, however, expressed disappointment that the government did not change import duty on edible oils, while others expected more fund allocation to encourage farm mechanisation, food processing and steps to curb food and fertiliser subsidies.
“It is not very dramatic (budget) that it can be a big game changer, but it is a reasonably good and additional investment in agriculture, which is a healthy sign,” said Ashok Gulati, agri-economist and former chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP).
“I am happy to see that the government is focusing on water. The separate funds to focus on irrigation show commitment to water. Now, the question is delivery. NABARD, state governments and Ministry of Water Resources should ensure that funds does not disappear like water,” he said.
The government has not announced much to boost food processing except for creating separate fund for dairy sector, he said.
Gulati, however, expressed disappointment that the government did not announce any step to “change the big monster of food and fertiliser subsidy. There was no mention, not a word. Otherwise, I am reasonably happy.”
Edible oil industry body SEA President Atul Chaturvedi said, “Finance Minister has chosen not to change the import duty on edible oil and decided to maintain the status quo. This will discourage farmers to continue to grow oilseeds and may switch over to other crops and our dependence on imports of vegetable oil will further increase.”
Milk Mantra Managing Director and CEO Srikumar Misra said, “The dairy processing infra fund of Rs 8,000 crore is a positive step for the sector, however, government needs to take a holistic view and develop a policy framework to support both cooperatives and private dairy companies.”
The fund should also be structured to provide support for entrepreneurial dairy companies in the form of cost efficient patient debt for setting up additional processing capacity and capitalising dairy supply chain infrastructure, he said.
With the ‘Make in India’ narrative, the government needs to focus on private dairy companies as well, he added.
Agri-logistics firm National Collateral Management Services Ltd (NCML) Managing Director and CEO Sanjay Kaul said: “The budget reflects sobriety in approach. …In the agri-rural space the Finance Minister has given a 24 per cent hike. If this largely goes towards productive infrastructure it would give a fillip to the rural economy and create jobs.”
“There are several other positive announcements. There is, however, little to cheer for the private sector which was expecting initiatives to incentivise them to make fresh investments,” he said.
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES
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