No directional change in agriculture

28 February 2015

By Anil Choudhary, MD & CEO, National Bulk Handling Corporation:

There is no directional change, no far reaching steps to make perceptible difference in post-harvest areas.

The changes are only in degree and not in kind. A country where agriculture is still rainfed to a great extent, and where over 55 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture for its ivelihood, the steps are completely inadequate.

The few positives are:

  1. Outlay for farm funding increased to Rs8.50 lakh crore
  2. Rural Infrastructure Development Fund outlay increased to Rs25,000 crore
  3. Setting up of unified national agriculture farm produce market
  4. Service tax exemption for fruits and vegetables storage

The larger negatives are:

  1. All the services related to agri commodities handling, storage, etc, should have been exempted from service tax and not only fruits and vegetable storage
  2. Creation of adequate post-harvest infrastructure should have been a priority.
  3. No allocation in this budge for NABARD funding of warehouses
  4. MAT should have been taken away for agri infrastructure, which clearly suffers from viability issue.
  5. Further the accelerated depreciation under section 35AD should have been allowed for the warehousing business of a company.
  6. Large outlay for agriculture funding by banks has been announced without any emphasis on post-harvest credit despite the obvious advantages of encouraging post-harvest credit, tht would have enabled farmers to time their sales, boost to infrastructure, long term availability of food grains
  7. Agri warehousing being low viability business- meaningful measures were expected to be announced to make funds available at lower cost and longer amortization.

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