A separate policy measure should be adopted in the upcoming Union Budget 2020 for Agriculture and Agritech as the objectives of both are different. While Agriculture policy should focus on farmer welfare, structural reforms and doubling farmer income, Agritech policy should focus on increasing productivity, efficiency and output across the agriculture business value chain.
In the last year’s budget, Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister, Government of India emphasised on “Gaon-Garib-Kisan” (Village-Poor-Farmer) as the cornerstone of policymaking. With Agritech missing from the key focus area, our planning will always be reactionary.
In 2014, India spent only 0.3% of agricultural GDP in agricultural R&D (against 0.62% by China). It is high time with looming climate change, water shortage, and limited arable land, government support Agritech with proactive policy, research and innovation funds and long-term vision, through which in turn Agri-tech can offer rich dividends in terms of increase in farmer’s income level and standard of living in a sustainable fashion.
Both Agritech and agriculture sectors need different kinds of approaches and incentives to meet their focus areas. Therefore, the demarcation of agriculture and agritech in terms of the policy is required.
Incentivizing Alternative Agri practices
Last year the Government of India focused on Zero budget farming, which involves no use of chemical fertiliser. Upscaling such ecological practices to large scale may face a productivity challenge. The food and nutrition security for a vast country like India can be ensured through the application of modern scientific tools and technologies.
Soilless technology such as Hydroponics with proven capability of using 90% less water and scope of 200-300 times of productivity from same land usage and limiting the use of Pesticide and harmful chemicals should be incentivized for research and development and adoption.
By Yash Vyas, Founder, Agro2o