Focus on economic and social development of rural sector at FM's pre-Budget meet

Union minister of finance and corporate affairs Nirmala Sitaraman has stressed on the measures to boost economic and social infrastructure of the rural sector and ways to eradicate unemployment and poverty through development of agriculture and allied sectors as well as non-farm sector.

During consultations with different stakeholder groups in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2019-20 in New Delhi today, the minister reiterates government’s commitment to agriculture sector and the priority it attaches to the farm sector.
The finance minister said that the ministry will hold broad based consultations with different stakeholders from fisheries sector to bring about blue revolution by optimally using our maritime resources.
Sitharaman also stressed upon encouraging start-ups, which can remove the segmentation in agriculture market and help in providing remunerative markets for agriculture products and supplying it to the final consumers at reasonable prices.
The main areas of discussion during the meeting included agriculture research and extension services, rural development, non-farm sector, horticulture, food processing, animal husbandry, fisheries and start-ups in agricultural sector among others.
The meeting was also attended by Anurag Thakur, minister of state for finance and corporate affairs, , NITI Aayog member Dr Ramesh Chandra, finance secretary Subhash C Garg, expenditure secretary Girish Chandra Murmu, revenue secretary Ajay Narayan Pandey, secretary department of financial services Rajeev Kumar, agriculture secretary Sanjay Agarwal, secretary in the department of rural development Amarjeet Sinha, DARE secretary Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Director General of Indian Council for Agri Research Dr KV Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor Tarun Shridhar, fisheries secretary Rajni Sekhri Sibal CBDT chairman Pramod Chandra Mody and other senior officials of the ministry of finance among others.
During the meeting representatives of the Agricultural and Rural Development sectors submitted various suggestions to boost investment in agricultural sector and enhance market access to farmers. Suggestions were given to improve food processing sector and introduction of technology-intensive processes in non-farm sector. It was also suggested that solar energy may be treated as third crop to augment income of farmers. Incentivising and popularising usage of organic manure for improving carbon content in soil, resolving GST issues related to Farmers Producers Organisations (FPO), incentive for agro processing units in the border districts and enhancing investments in R&D in agriculture centre. 
Other suggestions include filling up of vacancies in agricultural universities, increasing investment in micro irrigation and solar pumps, financial incentives to the states for implementing agricultural market reforms, promotion of handlooms and handicrafts in the North Eastern states for employment generation and enhancing rural income, creating of aggregators for farm equipment and promotion of non-IT related rural start-ups. Few suggestions for dairy sector were also submitted related to tax and duty structure and improving Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY).