Focus on food processing, fisheries, diary in interim budget

Program to support dairy farmers; bid to double seafood exports

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budget
Nirmala Sitharaman, finance minister, laid emphasis on agriculture and food processing

In the interim budget 2024-2025 tabled on 1 February 2024, Union minister of finance Nirmala Sitharaman laid emphasis on agriculture and food processing, fisheries, seafood exports, self-reliance in oil seeds and dairy farming.

Agriculture and food processing

According to Sitharaman, efforts to add value in the agricultural sector and boost farmers’ income will be stepped up. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana, she said, has benefited 38 lakh farmers and generated employment to 10 lakh. The Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Yojana has assisted 2.4 lakh SHGs (self-help groups) and 60,000 individuals with credit linkages. Other schemes are complementing the efforts for reducing post-harvest losses, and improving productivity and incomes, she said.

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.

Dairy development

A comprehensive program for supporting dairy farmers will be formulated, which will be built on existing schemes such Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Livestock Mission, and Infrastructure Development Funds for dairy processing and animal husbandry.

Efforts are already on to control foot and mouth disease. India is the world’s largest milk producer but with low productivity of milch animals,” she said.

Fishery sector

Sitharaman said setting up a separate department for fisheries resulted in a doubling of both inland and aquaculture production. “Seafood exports since 2013-14 have doubled.”

The minister said the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) will be stepped up to enhance aquaculture productivity from the existing 3 to
5 tons per hectare; double exports to 1 lakh crore; and generate 55 lakh employment opportunities in the near future. Five integrated aquaparks will also be set up.

Oil seeds mission

Building on an initiative announced in 2022, a strategy will be formulated to achieve self-reliance (atmanirbharta) in 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.”

Sitharaman said every year, under the PM-Kisan Samman Yojana, direct financial assistance is provided to 11.8 crore farmers, including marginal and small farmers. Crop insurance is given to four crore farmers under the PM Fasal Bima Yojana.

The sector is poised for inclusive, balanced, higher growth and productivity. These are facilitated by farmer-centric policies, income support, coverage of risks through price and insurance support, promotion of technologies and innovations through start-ups,” she said.

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