Budget 2024: Rural Economy Takes Center Stage As Interim Budget Unveiled Major Farmer Support Initiatives

Contrary to expectations, the interim budget encompassed significant announcements for the agriculture sector, consisting of direct financial aid and crop insurance for farmers
Nirmala Sitharaman
Nirmala Sitharaman

The interim budget, previously anticipated to lack major announcements as stated by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, deviated from this stance by unveiling some big announcements for the agriculture sector. From providing direct financial assistance to 11.8 crore farmers under the 'PM-Kisan Samman Yojana' to giving crop insurance to 4 crore farmers under the 'PM Fasal Bima Yojana,' the agriculture sector was the spotlight for this year's interim budget.

There was a distinct emphasis on the rural economy, particularly on eNAM, which currently integrates over 1350 physical mandis and caters to approximately 1.8 crore farmers.

"We believe digitizing Indian farmlands will facilitate more farmers' access to online e-mandi services," said Amith Agarwal, co-founder & Director, StarAgri Ltd.

He further added that emphasis on Atmanirbharta for oilseeds like sesame, mustard, and sunflower is much needed for the sector. "It not only transforms crop patterns but significantly boosts farmers' income, contributing to India's self-reliance and enhancing its food security program."

The budget also promised to boost value addition in agriculture and increase farmers' income by enhancing private and public investment in post-harvest activities. Moreover, to promote green growth, the FM proposed a new scheme of bio-manufacturing and bio-foundry, offering environmentally friendly alternatives like biodegradable polymers, bio-plastics, bio-pharmaceuticals, and bio-agri-inputs.

Amit Sinha, Co-Founder, Unnati, believes that these alternatives will help in promoting innovative and sustainable solutions for the agricultural sector.

"The government's dedication to fostering green growth is highly uplifting, particularly with the introduction of the bio-manufacturing and bio-foundry scheme."

In her budget speech, Sitharaman said that the sector is poised for inclusive and balanced growth. These will be facilitated by farmer-centric policies, income support, coverage of risks through price and insurance support, promotion of technologies and innovations through start-ups.

However, it is worth noting that despite the significant announcements, the budget allocation to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer's Welfare remained among the lowest.

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