Agri Business

Replace agri subsidy with DBT: CII

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2020 Published on January 16, 2020

The current overall efficiency of irrigation projects is only 38 per cent   -  THE HINDU

Rejigging the current model of farmer support, higher investment in agricultural infrastructure projects such as as irrigation and agri-produce logistics, and pan-India adoption of technologies such as remote sensing are among some of the recommendations of the CII for the forthcoming Union Budget.

Observing that the input-based farmer support model, which is still in vogue, was more suitable for the era in which the farmers needed to produce more, the trade body said this model has been leading to inefficient resource utilisation and causing damage to the agriculture ecosystem. Citing the examples of increased dependence on urea leading to poor soil quality and power subsidy given by many States to rapid depletion of groundwater table, CII urged the government to move away from agri-input subsidies to enhanced direct cash transfers in a phased manner.

Investment in agri-infra

Similarly, “there is a need to augment public investment in agri-infrastructure such as irrigation, seeds, cold storage and all other inputs which increase farm productivity. Investment in rural infrastructure including rural roads is also important. This would improve rural connectivity, raise farmer incomes and generate demand in the rural area,” it said.

Noting that the current overall irrigation efficiency of large and medium irrigation projects was only 38 per cent, it said there is a need to enhance this to at least 60 per cent in the coming years. The efficiency can be improved by regular maintenance of the irrigation infrastructure with increased budgetary allocation. CII also suggested that the government consider adopting a piped distribution system which is followed in Israel. Highlighting micro-irrigation models adopted by States such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, it said the budget could come up with a State-wise, crop-wise national plan with adequate budgetary support. Another important area that needs attention is the creatiuon of logistics infrastructure for agricultural produce. CII called for investments in logistic parks for perishables, dedicated areas at ports and railways for movement of perishables and new Greenfield Airports for cargo purposes.

“Perishable berths should be created at sea ports and railways should make available refeer wagons. Quarantine areas should be created at all relevant airports. Airports should also have efficient cargo perishable centres,” it said.

The investment required for this can partly come from increased budget allocation, savings from subsidy rationalisation and inclusion of some of the larger projects in the ₹100 lakh crore infra spend announced by the Government recently.

It also urged the government to take a leaf from how Karnataka has used remote sensing to create a database of land ownership and seasonal crops. CII said the government could consider constituting a committee of experts to study the use of remote sensing in agriculture and explore its application across the country.

Published on January 16, 2020
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