‘Fiscal support should reach farmers quickly’

Processing should be seen as extended activity of agriculture

By Author  |  Published: 15th May 2020  12:09 amUpdated: 14th May 2020  10:40 pm

Hyderabad: The second day announcements by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman deal with migrant workers, small farmers, street vendors and others at the bottom of pyramid. However, entrepreneurs feel that many layers of bureaucracy, if not trimmed, will kill the timelines of the response to the pandemic.

The Finance Minister announced that about Rs 29,000 crore additional refinance will be available through the Nabard. “We should see to it that a bulk of this is used to identify which farmer has what problem in which region and fix those gaps. The best bet to do this is through agri-tech startups. My real concern is the many layers of bureaucracy that will kill the timeliness of response. If we do get this money to get distributed to startups, farmer producers organisations before the end of 2020, we should really celebrate,” said Sathya Raghu V Mokkapati, co-founder and president, Kheyti, which is into implementing low-cost farming solutions to help small farmers increase yield.

Given the urgency to boost demand, direct benefit transfer would have been more effective, he said. “Schemes are many but they do not reach the masses properly on time. Nothing works betters in times like this than money in the hands of poor, without any frills,” he said.
The government says it spend about Rs 1,100 crore to rehabilitate the migrating labour. “No State or Central Government has statistics about the migrated labour. On an estimate, there are about 15 crore people across the country. Their problems have to be seen on humanitarian grounds,” said K Koteswara Rao, convener, All India Forum for Small and Medium Enterprises.
“About 2.5 crore farmers includintg fishermen and animal husbandry farmers will get institutional credit at a concessional rate under the Kisan Credit initiative announced with Rs 2,00,000 crore. This will propel the demand for product and services in agriculture and allied activities,” said Ramakanth Inani, senior vice-president, FTCCI.

“Today’s announcement for farming is just okay but not sufficient,” said K Bhasker Reddy, vice-president, FTCCI.

Bala Reddy, CEO, Our Food, which helps youth to set up small food processing centres to decentralise food processing, horticulture produce worth several crores of rupees is left to rot on the field. “Government should have focused more on processing at farm level and creating market linkage infrastructure. This could have solved the root cause,” he said.

“The lockdown has forced the migrant labour walk thousands of kilometers to reach their homes putting their health at stake. Government should have offered them better health coverage,” he said adding that food processing should be considered an extended activity of agriculture and credit should be eased out more on the processing infrastructure.

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