Agriculture experts on Wednesday called for more investment in India’s farm sector, including measures such as allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail to enhance farmers’ income and raise the agricultural activities’ share in India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“With the current level of investment, 4% growth in farm sector cannot be achieved. It is very clear that we have to increase investment both from private and public sectors,” said Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist.
Gulati was among a group of experts who met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday kicking off formal pre-budget consultations for this year with a discussion on agriculture.
“They (experts) suggested rationalisation of the different subsidies, decentralisation of handling of food grains to ensure food security, priority to increase areas under edible oils and oil seeds and allocation of higher resources for this sector among others,” a finance ministry statement said.
Experts also suggested offering tax exemptions to cooperative societies especially labour and housing cooperatives, defining cooperative banks as scheduled and non-scheduled banks, to impress upon states to remove mandi tax and purchase tax on dairy cooperatives.
“Some members supported FDI in multi brand retail for better prices to the farmers, more focus on development of agriculture infrastructure, encouraging private sector investment in agriculture sector, use of genetically modified seeds, concessions to agro-based sectors among others,” the statement said.
The formal consultations in run-up to the preparation of next year’s budget commenced amid darkening clouds over the world’s second fastest growing major economy.