Stake holders of agri and allied sectors are looking forward to a slew of measures from the Union Budget 2023-24 to boost the farm sector.

Atul Chaturvedi, Executive Chairman, Shree Renuka Sugars Ltd, said “India stands at a critical point, both from the point of view of energy security as well as sustainable development. This government, as part of its Atmanirbhar agenda, has expressed its determination to slash dependence on energy imports and has also laid out a bold vision for sustainability. The target of 20% blending of Ethanol (E20) into petrol by the year 2030 is a step in the direction. This budget, therefore, will be key and I’m optimistic that the government will unveil new measures to incentivise increase in the production of ethanol, for instance, by increasing the selling price. Needless to say, that achieving the blending targets, will greatly help decarbonising our economy and move us a step closer to the government’s target of complete Carbon Neutrality by 2070. Additionally, increasing the exports quota of sugar, will also help faster realisations of revenue, which will in turn help make faster payments to farmers.”

Further Chaturvedi said, “as far as the edible oils industry is concerned, the government will hopefully look at tangible measures to support the edible oil industry by restricting imports of refined oils to improve domestic capacity utilisations as well as employment generation. Also, the much debated National Mission on Oilseed should be launched with adequate budgetary support to reduce India’s dependence on imports of edible oils. We look forward to what the government has in store for the industry.”

B Soundararajan, Chairman, Suguna Group said “In the forthcoming budget, we hope to see reforms & support related to animal agriculture as this will enhance farmer productivity and sustainability. Animal agriculture’s contribution to agriculture GDP, which is now at 27%, must be increased to 40% in the coming years. This will be beneficial in multiple ways like better sustainability on farmer income, organic manure to replace chemical fertilizer and for consumers high-quality protein to ensure nutritional security. Request the Government to treat animal agriculture at par with direct agriculture in all aspects. GST on soya seed and meal should be exempted. We believe that reversing this tendency will be beneficial to farmers. End products are exempted and many of the inputs are taxed which add to the farmer cost. We recommend the banking industry to consider animal husbandry loans as agricultural loans as this will ease the process of approvals”.

Harsha Razdan, Partner and Head, Consumer Markets and Internet Business, KPMG in India said “In a bid to achieve self-sufficiency, we could expect the Budget to focus on initiatives aimed at reducing imports and increasing domestic production of agri-produce. Measures to encourage food exports will continue to be a key area of focus. With a view to improving crop productivity, continued allocation of subsidies towards inputs to improve crop yield coupled with schemes for providing financial assistance to farmers could be expected. Organic farming, new innovative irrigation systems and support for agriculture allied industries such as fisheries could also play an important role in the Budget. Lastly, building adequate cold chains, storage facilities and backhouses are extremely crucial in the overall agri value chain. Hence, leveraging technology investments in agri-based innovations and developing market linkages through a nationwide portal/app could help support the sector immensely.”

Abhishek Jain, Fellow & Director, Powering Livelihoods, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) said “In 2022, the government released a dedicated policy framework to promote Decentralised Renewable Energy applications for livelihoods. We hope that this significant example of pursuing the trifecta of jobs, growth and sustainability, would find fiscal allocations in the upcoming budget to start realising the vision of the policy framework.”

Vicky Dodani, founder of Agrizy “The Indian government is aggressively encouraging as many people as possible involved in agriculture to incorporate digitalization. The approach to lessen farming’s impact on the environment and the impending economic recession in some areas is to digitize the agricultural sector. Because of this, we anticipate businesses and governments all over the world to increase their technology investments in agriculture, leveraging developments in cloud computing, earth observation, remote sensing, data, and AI/ML models, to help the industry unlock new possibilities and address current agricultural issues. This can greatly increase the production of food, increase profitability, and lower operating expenses, all of which are essential for sustainability. In India, there is a major gap between what the market wants and what farmers produce. This gap needs to be solved to achieve the Government’s declared target of doubling farmer profitability. The agrifood processing industry plays a major role in filling this gap by increasing the shelf life and thereby reducing the wastage. India has a long way to go in this regard. For e.g. only 3% of the total F&V output is actually processed in the country which is much lesser than some of the developed economies. Recent market research assessments predict that the worldwide agritech market will expand between 2020 and 27 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12%. Along with the US and China, India is a competitor in this market.”