By Athar Parvaiz
Of the total allocation of Rs 35,984 crore (approx USD 537 mn/EUR 482) to the farming sector, Rs 412 crore (approx USD 62 mn/EUR 55 mn) has been dedicated to Organic Farming, an increase from last year’s provision of Rs 320 crore (approx USD 48 mn/EUR 43 mn)
On February 29, when Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) presented its budget for year 2016-17, it gave a clear message to the world that this fast growing economy was serious about living in harmony with nature.
India had maintained during last year’s climate change negotiations in Paris that the best solution to severe challenges like climate change laid in a simple lifestyle, as climate change was the result of “extravagant habits pursued by developed countries for decades.”
One of the major highlights of this year’s budget was an impressive budgetary provision for promoting organic farming in the country and increasing the overall funding for agriculture by over 44 percent, from Rs 24,909 crore (approx USD 3719 mn/EUR 3334 mn) in 2015-16 to Rs 35,984 crore in 2016-17.
“To increase crop yields in rain fed areas, which account for nearly 55% of the country’s arable land, organic farming is being promoted,” India’s Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, told the Indian parliament while delivering his budget speech.
Towards this end, he said, the Government has launched two important schemes: “First, the ‘Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’, which will bring 500,000 [half a million] acres under organic farming over a three-year period. Second, the Government has launched a value chain based organic farming scheme called ‘Organic Value Chain Development’ in the North East Region.” Of the total sum for the organic farming sector, Rs 115 crore (approx USD 17 mn/EUR15 mn) has been allocated to this scheme alone.
Jaitley said the emphasis was on value addition so that organic produce grown in these parts finds domestic and export markets. “A total provision of Rs 412 crore has been made for these schemes,” he announced.
With millions of hectares of agricultural land, India is considered a country with a huge potential for organic farming. According to a study by Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce of India) and market research firm, TechSci Research, India’s organic food market can reach USD 1.36 bn by 2020.
One of India’s north eastern states, Sikkim, became a completely organic farming state in January this year. And now, buoyed by the union government’s resolve, other states have begun making similar attempts. Government of the southern Indian state of Maharashtra is starting a Rs 66-crore (approx 10 mn USD/EUR 9 mn) project to encourage organic farming through 932 farmer groups, as per reports.
This year’s budget is widely seen as an attempt by Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to reach out to the farmers who have come under stress because of constant crop failures due to drought in recent years. The upcoming elections in some crucial farming states like West Bengal and Utter Pradesh are also understood by some to be a reason for the Indian government’s motivation to raise funding for the farming sector quite heavily.
“This budget is about the dreams of the people. I congratulate Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and his team for the General Budget, which focused on development of agriculture, farmers, women and rural areas. There have been important steps taken in this Budget in the direction of doubling the income of farmers by 2022,” Modi said in a statement.
In his 100-minute speech, Jaitley had already thanked farmers: “We are grateful to our farmers for being the backbone of the country’s food security. We need to think beyond food security and give back to our farmers a sense of income security.”
INDIAN ORGANIC INDUSTRY REACTIONS TO BUDGET 2016
Value addition to organic raw materials through sound post harvest operations such as collection, storage, logistics, proccessing and trade development will be vital to creating market linkage both in domestic and export markets, in order to keep the development sustainable. Any missing link may hamper real time growth. Nature Bio-Foods Ltd, which is part of LT Group of DAAWAT Basmati Rice and ECOLIFE, the organic brand, is a pioneering certified organic business with self owned distribution companies in Europe and USA. As an Indian company that has been toiling in the organic foods sector since 19 years, we wish to extend our support to as many Indian organic farmers as possible by buying their produce and catering for organic food lovers around the world”—Tapan Ray, MD & CEO, Nature Bio-Foods Ltd, Delhi NCR
The opening up of 100% FDI for production and marketing of food products in India will surely help more private players to assist agriculture and strengthen the food processing industry. The government has also announced a sum of Rs 500 crore to be allocated for Pulses, which will indirectly benefit organic farmers; also, pulses are the main crop produced during crop rotation by organic farmers. The creation of an online unified agriculture platform connecting wholesalers to farmers is yet another positive to encourage increased usage of technology within the sector”—Raj Seelam, Founder & MD, Sresta Natural Bioproducts Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad
*MGNREGA: Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act
This article was published in the April 2016 issue of Pure & Eco India