Key Takeaways for the Agriculture from the Interim Budget 2024 - 2025

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Nirmala Sitharaman, the Minister of Finance, Government of India, presented the Interim Union Budget for 2024-2025 on 1 Feb 2024. The budget focuses on empowering farmers, women, youth, and the poor. It proposes several initiatives aimed at cultivating a more robust and sustainable agricultural ecosystem. These are summarized below:


1. Approximately Rs 1,27,470 crore budget allocated for agriculture in India's interim budget 2024 - 25

Recognizing the critical role of agriculture, the interim union budget has allocated Rs 1,27,469.88 crore to the Ministry of Agriculture. Of this, the Department of Agriculture is allocated Rs 1,17,528.79 crore, and the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE) Rs 9,941.09 crore. 


2. Rs 20 lakh crore agriculture credit target


The agriculture credit target has been raised to Rs 20 lakh crore in the Interim Budget 2024-2025, emphasizing welfare initiatives for farmers. Allocation is continued for the Agriculture Accelerator Fund. Announced in Budget 2023-24, it was established to support rural entrepreneurs and agri-startups, fostering innovative solutions for farmers' challenges, and modernize agricultural practices for enhanced productivity and profitability.


The allocation for the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi is unchanged at Rs 60,000 crore. This scheme provides direct financial help to farmers. It will cover 11.8 crore marginal and small farmers.


3. Funds allocated for the ongoing implementation of PMFBY


Recognizing the uncertainties faced by farmers, the ongoing implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) received allocation. This crop insurance scheme will provide security to four crore farmers. It will protect them against unforeseen events like adverse weather conditions. The Government is committed to enhancing the effectiveness of crop insurance. It will work to increase its awareness and accessibility in rural areas. This will stimulate growth in the insurance sector.


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4. Integration of 1361 mandis into e-NAM


India's agricultural markets are undergoing a digital transformation. The integration of more mandis with the e-NAM platform reflects this progress. The pan-India electronic National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) is a trading portal. It integrates the existing State-run Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) mandis. The interim budget plans to integrate 1,361 mandis and increase trading volumes to Rs 3 lakh crore in 2024-2025, serving 1.8 crore farmers. It marks a significant step towards a more efficient and transparent agricultural market system.


5. Addressing post-harvest losses with public-private partnerships to improve infra and storage facilities

India faces a significant challenge with post-harvest losses. The nation loses about 5–13% of its fruits and vegetables and 3–7% of other crops including oil seeds and spices between harvest and consumption. This translates to an estimated Rs 1,52,000 crores loss annually. To address this crucial concern, the budget emphasizes public-private partnerships to improve infrastructure and storage facilities. By minimizing losses, India can improve its food security and drive overall economic growth.


The Government plans to promote public and private investments in aggregation, procurement, modern storage along with branding and marketing under PM-Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises scheme. It will strengthen the micro-processing sector.


6. Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan for self-sufficiency and food security


Edible oil, a staple in Indian kitchens, is primarily imported, with imports exceeding Rs1.5 trillion annually. It presents a vulnerability in our food security. The Atmanirbhar Oil Seeds Abhiyan initiative aims to change this. It will promote research and development of indigenous oilseeds like groundnut and mustard. The plan will focus on research to develop high-yielding varieties of oilseeds, adoption of modern farming techniques, procurement mechanisms, setting up of robust market linkages, value addition initiatives, and crop insurance provisions.


7. Reduce import dependencies with increased adoption of Nano DAP


In India, after urea, DAP (di-ammonium phosphate), is the most used fertilizer. Following the successful adoption of Nano Urea, the interim budget 2024-2025 proposes the adoption of Nano DAP across all climatic zones. Nano DAP proves to be a more cost-effective and efficient alternative to traditional DAP. Since Nano DAP is domestically manufactured, this initiative is likely to reduce import dependence.


8. Comprehensive Dairy Development program for dairy development

India is the world's largest milk producer. The dairy sector sustains the livelihoods of 80 million dairy farmers and plays a vital role in the national economy. The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of the Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund within the Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF). The budget allocates Rs 29,610.25 crore for the ensuing three years until 2025-2026. This initiative aims to encourage investments in areas like dairy processing, product diversification, breed multiplication farms, animal feed plants, waste management, and the setting up of veterinary drug and vaccine production plants.


The Government plans to formulate a comprehensive Dairy Development program to empower dairy farmers and strengthen the sector. It will make efforts to improve productivity and control foot and mouth disease.


9. Boost aquaculture productivity by 5 tonnes per hectare and double exports


The Budget recognizes the immense potential of aquaculture in exports. It aims to boost aquaculture productivity by 5 tonnes per hectare and double exports to Rs1 lakh crore. The budget proposes to achieve this through the establishment of five integrated aquaparks under the PM-Matsya Sampada Yojana. The Government expects these aquaparks to create job opportunities for 55 lakh people.


Conclusion: 


The interim budget 2024-2025 promises to strengthen agriculture value chains with technology adoption, provisions for food processing infrastructure, waste reduction, and crop insurance. Focus on improved credit for farmers, mandi-integration, self-reliance in edible oils, investments in post-harvest activities, Agriculture Accelerator Fund, and crop insurance are some measures aimed at technology adoption.
The proposals for the dairy and aquaculture sectors offer the potential to increase opportunities and profits for farmers. When executed efficiently, these measures will encourage diversification and boost farmers' incomes. They will also ensure food security and contribute to a more sustainable and prosperous agricultural ecosystem.

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