Union Budget 2020-21: An Analysis of Sustainable Agricultural Practices

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The Union Budget 2020-21 has been surprising at several ends. Be it the boost given to the education sector, focus on easing out the agricultural norms and practices or simply the boost to sustainability, this budget has been a lot about the holistic development of the nation instead of just focusing on the economy.

This blog is coming a bit late and we completely agree to it but understanding the implications of what the sustainability led proclamations implied did take some time.

We had in one of our previous blogs talked about how a shift towards sustainability can be the answer to multiple woes that Indian Agriculture faces. We had, in the said blog talked about the practical approaches to take. In this blog, however, we will touch the policy part of it.

So, first, we will layout the relevant proclamations made and then talk about the probable impact thereof. Read on:

The Key Points

The major focus areas as mentioned by the FM for the sustainable development of agricultural practices would include:

  • A budget of Rs 2.83 lac crore to be allocated towards the development and implementation of sustainable practices in agriculture, rural development, irrigation and allied activities
  • Credit target for farmers who utilize such resources to be set at Rs 15 lac crore. All eligible beneficiaries under the PM-KISAN will be covered under the KCC scheme as well
  • Comprehensive measures to be taken to support the 100 water-stressed districts with a proposal to expand PM-KUSUM to provide 20 lac farmers with enough resources for setting up stand-alone solar pumps and another batch of resources for 15 lac farmers in order to solarize their grid-connected pump sets.
  • Setting up of efficient, power-sensitive warehouses at the block/taluk level with a focus on “one product one district” for better mobilization of resources and improved outputs
  • Increase in efforts towards building fish production to the tune of 200 lac tons by 2022-23. Unemployed youth to be involved in fishery extension through the 3477 Sagar Mitras and 500 Fish Farmer producer Organisations. Focus on raising fishery exports up to Rs 1 lac crores by 2024-24

“The strategic action plan launched by the government in the Union Budget 2020 will be a path towards reviving the sector and doubling farmer’s income. Increasing the allocation of funds to empower the sector will further open up new avenues for farmers to strengthen the ecosystem, contributing to India’s economic growth.”

In addition to what we just quoted, the finance minister has also said that keeping in line with the expectations of aspirational India, the focus would also lie on development and implementation of sustainable cropping patters coupled with state of the art technology to further boost the productivity and efficiency of the agricultural value chain.

The FM, Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman also mentioned that the Food Corporation of India, as well as the Warehousing Corporation of India, will work together towards building smart warehousing facilities on their own land. In addition to that, NABARD will be entrusted with mapping and geo-tagging the agri-warehouses across the country so that adequate measures be taken to ensure zero wastage and better management. Such an effort would be specifically focusing on minimizing the huge losses which the value chain currently faces because of the cold storages, unequal distribution, inaccessibility and inadequate management.

What this means

Well first, a very good budget considering how the Government is gradually trying to shift the stress from the already burdened land resources and focusing more on making the most out of other resources.

Also, increased focus on fish production would mean a lot towards the efforts of conserving our water bodies and water-based species too because no edible fish can survive in an environment of plastic and toxicity. In addition to this, the experiments and technological advancements to boost the production would further yield to the conservation of aquatic life and the aquatic ecosystem in general. We had in one another blog about water conservation mentioned about how a small village in Maharashtra has become self-sufficient for not just its food production but also employment is one model the Government might want to explore at the national level.

Finally, a major part of the budget is also focused on water conservation or in other words aiding farmers in the drought-prone areas. Though nothing specific has been mentioned in this regard given the incumbent Government’s stress on the usage of renewable sources and cleaner energy forms, we are hopeful about it too.

Concluding Notes

China and South Korea, the two predominantly agricultural economies have worked phenomenally to transform their economic scenario and emerge as superpowers. They have done this through a series of tech-savvy but smart sustainable steps with close to 4.5 to 7% of their budgets being dedicated to R&D.

India though has started on the right path still needs to learn a lot from these.

The United Nations estimates that at the current rate, India would overtake China to be the most populous country by the end of 2027. The focus on the agricultural produce and the existing resources would then be even more intense than what it is currently. As a nation which is always on its toes when it comes to resources, it is about time that sustainable agricultural practices are employed to full effect lest we end up facing a severe food crisis anytime soon!