Budget - 2005 must not fail Agriculture

(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)

It is hard to subscribe otherwise than view agriculture as the focal point in our national economy. For a predominantly agricultural country like India where a major chunk of the population i.e. 70% directly or indirectly avail their sustenance from agriculture, the Government must act wise to ensure the annual growth rate of 4% in agriculture.

It is inescapable if the country has to achieve the overall growth rate of 8%. We are not averse to the prominence being given to service and industrial sector but right now and for times to come, the vast potentiality of agricultural sector in employment generation can’t be overlooked, minimized or underestimated.

Ambitious allocations in the Budget should be earmarked to speed up development of polutry, fisheries and dairy farming. Surging rural unemployment must be contained and perspective growth of these areas can provide genuin employment to the vast rural manpower. Only a sound agricultural base can ensure enduring supply of vital raw materials to the agro and forest based industries. India still lags far behind in international trade in agriculture & export of agricultural commodities.

This is just not the time to simply contemplate but to act. Sustainability requires a greater thrust and an ambititious approach towards exploration and expansion of overseas markets. Few days from now, the Union Budget will be presented in the Parliament. We therefore, feel concerned to caution the Government to refrain from the usual lacklustre and retualistic verbosity.

The UPA leadership stands committed to uplift agriculture and ensure it’s proper growth and development. The proposed budget has got to be really genuin and supportive to agriculture for the simple reason that economic prosperity of the country can emanate only from the prosperity of the agro-rural sector. The budget layout on agriculture should be very substantial and meaningful, encompassing every aspect of agricultural development.

Greater emphasis has to be put on infrastructural development like irrigation and watershed management, creation of seed villages, flow of easy credit to small and marginal farmers at an interest not exceeding 6%, dissemination of knowledge and related informations to the farmers, need based restructuring of agricultural research and development and expansion of the area under horticultural crops.

The Government should also encourage investment in agriculture and workout comprehensive schemes with special emphasis on fruit and vegetable processing. Horticultural crops have immense potentiality to contribute substantially for achieving 4% growth in agriculture and given the geo-climatic advantage, we must try to overcome our past failures and make a dent into overseas markets for our horticultural products.

But at the same time there lies the real need for an urgent change and reversal of policies which impede and have damaging effect on Indian agriculture. The Government must enhance subsidy and tariff. Quantitative restrictions must also be reimposed instantly.

The Union Budget should take particular care to provide ambitious allocations, create special fund for the development of rainfed areas and revival of technology mission on oil seeds and pulses. Implementation of special schemes in these spheres on a time bound scale can enhance the socio-economic status of our peasantry and transform the face of rural India for the better.

Farmers constitute an important segment of our society. The Govt. must try to bring the peasantry into the social mainstream because the continuing frustration and alienation will have a negative impact on the society as a as to how the things are get done




(Editorial : Farmers' Forum Magazine)