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POLICY & REGULATIONS

Industry welcomes Budget with policy intervention for food processing
Friday, 02 February, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
The industry has welcomed the agriculture focussed Budget as the Union government showed its intent to carry out major policy intervention in order to promote growth in agriculture and food processing sectors. Doubling the budgetary allocation for ministry of food processing industries (MoFPI) to Rs 1,400 crore, creating fund for Green Operation for organic farming, fund for infrastructure for agricultural markets in the rural areas were some of the highlights of the budgetary speech of the finance minister.
 
The impetus to the rural economy and the overall agriculture sector in the Union Budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha on Thursday would be a force multiplier for overall growth in the coming years. The Budget is very much in line with the expectations of FICCI. FICCI president  Rashesh Shah, stated, “It will drive consumption in a big way, thus helping growth in other related sectors.”

He added that additionally, the attention to the MSMEs through better access to finance or lowering of the corporate tax rate would also help spur both employment and growth in this vital segment of the economy.
 
Praveen Nagamalla, CEO, Indus Fresh, an Essar Agrotech company, said the Union Budget’s enhanced focus on strengthening the agriculture sector and building the rural economy was extremely encouraging.

“The FM announced several initiatives that will give a fillip to the agri sector. These include plans to promote farmer welfare and the quality and yield of farm produce, setting up a long-term irrigation fund and creating a favourable tax structure for farmer-producer organisations.”

Other heartening measures include enhanced budgets for cluster-based horticulture development & organic farming, doubling the funds for the food processing sector, setting up over 40 state-of-the-art Mega Food Parks, and Kissan Credit Cards.

“Overall this is a pro-farmer Budget for the agri sector and will certainly help in realising the FM’s goal of doubling farm income by 2022. I am sure Operation Green will be as successful as Operation Flood was for the dairy sector,” Nagamalla said.

While welcoming the Union Budget 2018-19, Anil Khaitan, president, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that the government had provided a budget for all. The focus on agriculture, rural economy, health, infrastructure and MSMEs is highly appreciable.

“MSP for Kharif crops at 1.5 times cost of produce along with cluster-model approach for agricultural production would increase farm productivity and enhance farmers’ incomes in the coming times,” said Khaitan.

Doubling the allocation in food processing from Rs 715 crore to Rs 1,400 crore would boost food processing; specialised agro processing and financial institutions, according to him.

Cultivation of horticulture crops in clusters will boost production and marketing. “Further, Agri-market Development Fund with a corpus of Rs 20 billion for developing agricultural markets would go a long way to help farmers,” he added.
 
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