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Budget 2023-24: Government ushers in a dawn of hope for agritech in India

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Budget 2023-24: Government ushers in a dawn of hope for agritech in India

Around 63,000 ‘Primary Agricultural Credit Societies’ are being computerised with an investment of Rs 2,516 crore targeted to fortify the Indian agricultural sector in the technological sphere

Saurabh Agarwal Last Updated:February 04, 2023 19:02:04 IST Budget 2023-24: Government ushers in a dawn of hope for agritech in India

Representational image. Moneycontrol

Agriculture is an important sector of the Indian economy which contributes about 17 percent to the total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and employs over 60 percent of the population. It is noteworthy that the recent progress made in the technological and financial spheres of the agritech has exponentially uplifted the populace from rural India.

The government has provided the agricultural sector several guidelines to render immense benefits to the sector. The finance minister duly acknowledged the importance of the agricultural industry’s development by announcing several regulations and guidelines that are intended to enhance the industry manifold.

With the advancement of technology, India has witnessed the rise of numerous startups in the agricultural ecosystem. Startups have great potential to contribute multifariously to the country’s economic progression at a rapid pace. The Budget has introduced plans to expand digital technologies targeted to boost the agriculture sector, promote natural farming, and fund rural startups. The fiscal budget for the FY 2023-2024 will redefine the agritech paradigm of the nation with the assistance of its agriculture-oriented policies.

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Agriculture accelerator fund

The finance minister has introduced the ‘Agriculture Accelerator Fund’ in the Union Budget ‘2023. The stated fund will be intended for the incorporation of new-age technologies and the implantation of cost-effective solutions to reduce the fiscal challenges faced by farmers nationwide. Various innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Farm Automation, etc. will also be introduced through the Agriculture Accelerator Fund to enhance agricultural practices and boost production and profitability.

The farmer fraternity across the nation will benefit from the construction of open-source, open-standard, and interoperable digital public infrastructure for agriculture. Through pertinent information services for crop planning and health, increased access to agricultural inputs, loans, insurance, assistance with crop estimation, market intelligence, etc., farming practices will be enhanced nationwide. Significantly, the measure would enable inclusive farmer-centric solutions. It will promote the expansion of agritech along with agriculture-oriented startups.

Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Programme

Approximately one-third of India’s GVA (Gross Value Added) is derived from the horticulture industry. Since the mentioned sector is labour-intensive, even a minor manoeuvre can generate multiple employment opportunities. Notably, only 10 percent of the land is being utilised for horticulture, however, 33 percent of agricultural income is generated from it. To enhance the horticulture ecosystem in the country, the finance minister has introduced the “Atmanirbhar Horticulture Clean Plant Programme” in the financial budget ‘2023-2024 with a monetary allocation of Rs 2,200 crore. The program is intended to raise the value of horticultural crops and to promote productivity. The program’s primary goal is to increase the supply of plant material that is free from disease. The initiative will contribute towards raising the worth of horticulture crops. It must be emphasized that the Agricultural credit target has been increased to Rs 20 lakh crore for 2024, with a keen focus on animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries, etc., which will boost agriculture in India financially.

Agritech-oriented initiatives

The Budget has introduced many programs and schemes to benefit the farmers and agriculture in India. Around 63,000 ‘Primary Agricultural Credit Societies’ are being computerised with an investment of Rs 2,516 crore targeted to fortify the Indian agricultural sector in the technological sphere, model PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) are being developed and along with the stated developments, a significant amount of decentralised storage capacity is to be set up. A targeted investment of Rs 6,000 crore has been allocated to the ‘Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada’ Yojana for fishermen’s welfare. It is important to note that the Centre has pledged financial support of Rs 5,300 crore for the drought-prone central area of Karnataka, which will enhance the region’s agricultural capability.

The writer is Founder, GROWiT India Pvt. Ltd a state-of-the-art manufacturer and distributor of advanced protective farming inputs. He tweets @GrowitIndia Views expressed are personal.

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