Memorandum submitted to the Hon’ble Finance Minister at the Pre-Budget 2015 consultation on agriculture:

  1. Raise Agricultural R&D to 1% of the sector’s GDP moving towards achieving 2% in the next few years.
  2. Agriculture extension services have collapsed. Announce a 5 year plan to appoint 1 agriculture graduate as extension worker for every 6 villages; create 1 lac jobs.
  3. Provide a soil card for every plot of land in the country.
  4. 10 times more funding for propagating organic practices, integrated pest management, bio pesticides & bio fertilizers. Initially, target 10% replacement and more later.
  5. To increase production of perishables; select 4 districts every year for next 5 years. Choose districts (preferably backward areas) with the ideal combination of weather, soil & water availability. Integrate all food related govt. programs to these areas.
  6. Additionally direct Small Farmers Agri. Business Consortium & NDDB to jointly launch a mission to grow, store and for controlled distribution of onions, potatoes and tomatoes.
  7. Special focus on fodder. Require a “Fodder Seed Mission”.
  8. Start a ‘Sugarcane Development Board’ like National Horticulture Board
  9. Emphasis on “Agro Forestry” for income generation and increasing forest cover.
  10. Fund indigenous breed artificial insemination standardization, regulatory program so all farmer families can own good milk animals & provide doorstep vet services.
  11. Fund a white revolution across India. At present target to double milk yield of indigenous milk cattle.
  12. Fund Gaushala’s with the condition; 40% of total animals in their keep be male cattle.
  13. Livestock mission for indigenous breeds where insurance premium is paid by government depending on milk yield.
  14. Review all under implementation irrigation projects and proposed projects. Scrap unfeasible projects.
  15. Don’t invest in new large projects like inter linking of river basins. Instead fund repair & maintenance of all existing irrigation infrastructure projects, lining of all canal & provide drainage for existing irrigated areas.
  16. Don’t fund flood irrigation projects, incentivize micro irrigation as infrastructure investment.
  17. Fund 1 million small water storage reservoirs.
  18. Distribute soil moisture measuring sensors to all farmers.
  19. Allow import of agriculture machinery (not tractors) at 0% duty without restrictions.
  20. Incentivize collective ownership of farm machinery & leasing. All incentives for individual ownership of farm machinery including tractors must be withdrawn. Give interest free loans to cooperative societies / farmer producer organizations to purchase farm machinery repayable over 3 years to lease services to farmers.
  21. Fund increasing the number of agriculture market yards ‘Mandi’ by 50% & provide full infrastructure in all existing agriculture market yards.
  22. When funding urban renewal, make it mandatory for cities to allocate space for specific number of farmer markets / Sunday markets in residential areas.
  23. No restrictions on export of agriculture produce. Need long term Agriculture Exim policy. Ad havoc discretion by government must end.
  24. Charge max permissible import duty on fresh fruit & vegetables.
  25. Impose hefty Import duty on imported cooking oil. Incentivize local production.
  26. More funds for Indian metrological department specifically for improving medium term weather forecasts for agriculture.
  27. Move to a regime of risk mitigation measures where government pays 50% premium for weather & price insurance for all crops.
  28. 10 times increased funding for data collection & assessment.
  29. Double number of loans of up-to rupees two lac given to farmers & for that charge 1% interest only. Subvention is not helping, do away with it.
  30. Agriculture lending figures are dubious to a great extent. Corrective measures need to be announced so that credit does reach actual farmers.
  31. Set up a Debt recovery tribunal type authority for farmers to resolve loan disputes.
  32. Timely release of fertilizer subsidy to manufacturing units. But re-look how subsidies are calculated to the fertilizer sector to plug policy loopholes of excess payments.
  33. Discrimination in policy – towards fertilizer cooperatives must end – extend scope of Section 115BBD, allow investment allowance to cooperatives similar to private manufacturing sector and they be allowed the flexibility of automatic route borrowings like companies.
  34. State and Central Coop. Banks be supported to meet Minimum Capital Adequacy Norms by capital infusion or else cooperative banks will fail.
  35. Interest subvention of 2% in providing short term agri. loans not available on refinance portion of NABARD to such banks. Provide interest subvention on refinance portion.
  36. NABARD should refinance these banks @ 2.50% as applicable at inception of scheme.
  37. Plan to make subsidies inversely proportional to size of land holding. Any direct subsidy transfer to farmers can be a positive development provided farmer interests are not sacrificed before implementation.
  38. Central ministries of Rural Development, Agriculture & Irrigation can be transformed into one powerful ministry.
  39. To improve governance & ease of doing business appoint a “National Food security advisor” like the NSA to monitor, assimilate & coordinate programs between different departments, ministries & state governments so that there is delivery at grass root level.