The agri-business stakeholders are expecting the Government to enhance allocation to the agriculture sector in the upcoming Union Budget 2022-23.

Stakeholders in the agri-business sector, while expecting higher allocation in areas of credit and irrigation, are looking forward to some policy measures that can provide further impetus for technology adoption in agriculture.

Subhadeep Sanyal, Partner, Omnivore, said, “The pandemic emerged as an added challenge to the doubling of farmers’ income. However, farm income is also intertwined with the deepening impact of climate change. Recognizing India’s vulnerability on this front, the government can add to its efforts for finding long-term sustainable solutions. Incentivizing private investments in agrifood life sciences is certainly a step in that direction.”

Ravindra Agrawal, Managing Director, KisanKraft, said that farm inputs and machinery should be treated at par for policy support and exemptions. The PLI schemes must include agricultural machinery and GST and duty refunds have to be simplified to encourage farm machinery exports.

“Mandate DBT and timely disbursal of subsidies, eliminate state-level empanelment and let farmers get subsidy on buying any FMTTI tested machine, through a nationwide portal. Preference should be given for Indian manufactured machinery in all government schemes. The 12% GST for agriculture machinery, engines, electric motors, and parts. GST should be the same for 4-digit HSN to eliminate disputes, and anomalies should be corrected to help domestic manufacturers compete,” Agrawal said and added that the cost of electricity, LPG/CNG should be brought down to enable domestic manufacturers to compete in the global markets.

Further, Agrawal said, “Fiscal incentives for R&D, especially agriculture, should be restored and stifling procedures repealed. FMTTI should accept BIS reports and allow multi-branding just like BIS to reduce redundant workload. Farmer education should be exempt from ASCI accreditation fees. Diploma courses for farmers and technicians should be revamped and get extra funding.”

Navneet Ravikar, CMD, Leads Connect Services, said a separate fund should be earmarked for Research and development in the field of Remote Sensing, UAV for crop yield estimation and crop claim management. State technical units to be earmarked funds for the purpose. Subsidy of 50% or 10 lacs whichever is less for buying drones and accessories to be used for agri research.

“Subsidize crop insurance premium to Rs 10 for all farmers (farmers share rest premium to be paid by the central government and state government in the ratio of 70:30) with landholding less than 1 hectare with compulsory coverage by all banks and financial institutions. All insured farmlands by banks should be geotagged and Aadhaar linked. The banks to be paid additional 2% of the premium over and above 4% being paid by the insurers.” Ravikar added.

Randhir Chauhan, MD, Netafim India said, “We need to have an ambitious target and align the execution process to take micro-irrigation coverage to 60-70% from the current 17 per cent in the next 25 years. The delays in the disbursal of micro-irrigation subsidies under the PMKSY program are hampering its progress. Online portal for an end-to-end process execution and visibility, transparency in the process for fund disbursement would bring the efficiency in subsidy disbursal and support farmers to be debt-free much conveniently.”

Providing infrastructure status to the micro-irrigation industry would help manufacturers (95% of which comes under MSME) with reduced operating costs, thereby accelerating the industry growth.

According to Amit Sinha, Co-Founder of Unnati an increase in investments of rural infrastructure, MSME development, digitization of the agri-ecosystem, and farmer productivity prioritization of Agritech to fund early-stage start-ups that are disrupting the agricultural economy also need to be focused on.

“Some additional focus areas could be the allocation of funds for increased digitalization in the agricultural ecosystem, the promotion of collaboration between district governance and Agritech startups in order to bring innovative solutions to the farmers’ market, providing subsidies or cutbacks on taxes to farmers who opt for Agritech products. Easy access to capital, tax relaxation, and interest subvention to encourage FPO setups will allow the agritech industry to grow quickly and will help FPOs to gain traction in this new era,” Sinha adds.

Taranjeet Singh Bhamra, CEO & Founder, AgNext Technologies said, “We hope that the upcoming budget will prioritize R&D incentivization in agriculture, along with the supportive impetus to allow agritech businesses, particularly start-ups, to scale domestically at a greater pace. The emerging agritech ecosystem also requires a focus on infrastructure development and governance frameworks to spur more innovation in the sector. Fiscal considerations can be beneficial to facilitate the growth of the Indian agritech sector in 2022.”

Shardul Sheth, Co-Founder and CEO of AgroStar, said “There is a potential to reduce the GST on farm inputs like crop protection, nutrition, and hardware from an average of 12%-18% to the lowest minimum possible. This in turn can significantly benefit the farmers by reducing the production cost. Policies to train and support farmers to transition to cash and horticulture crop cultivation will also bring about a big change and help farmers to increase agricultural productivity. .”

Amith Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO, AgriBazaar said, “Budget 2022 should foster the further development of these organizations by introducing growth-oriented policies, facilitating a more robust physical infrastructure network. In addition, the provision of tax breaks will enhance the affordability and ease of access to such services.”

Agarwal further said that it would also be good for the government to set up a dedicated agritech promotion fund to enable more innovation in the sector. “The fund, regulated by a team of technology, agriculture and agritech experts, can also provide a clear roadmap to promote the outreach of agriculture digitization and technical training in the most remote sections of our country. Such a framework is essential if we truly want to harness the power of technology for the sector’s development,” he added.

Rajamanohar Somasundaram, Founder and CEO of Aquaconnect said, “to accelerate the Blue Revolution 2.0, we expect a greater push to promote digital solutions across the value chain right from pre-production to post-harvest to bring predictability, efficiency, and traceability. Incentivizing farmers with better subsidies to adopt data-driven farming, farm monitoring & automation tools will eventually ease and accelerate the wider tech adoption and drive the transition of farmers towards modern farming systems with improved productivity.” “To achieve the PMMSY targets, the need of the hour is to drive the inclusion of formal finance and insurance in aquaculture. High insurance premiums demotivate the farmers from availing any risk mitigation for their crops, hence subsidizing insurance premiums will help fish and shrimp farmers to mitigate production risks and reduce production costs to a great extent. Further, increasing the fisheries KCC limit from the current range will help farmers meet their farming expenses entirely,” Somasundaram added.