Mindful of the fact that the farmers community needs to be mollified after its year-long agitation against the three controversial farm laws, the government is likely to focus on boosting the agriculture sector in the Union budget for 2023-24, which would be presented by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.
The agriculture sector has always been seen as a sector which has a potential of generating lots of revenue and according to a report by Deloitte India, quoted recently in various sections of the media, it can generate more than $800 billion in revenue for the country with an investment of over $270 billion by 2031.
The report suggested that the government should introduce policies to support technology adoption for modernising operations in the agriculture space and give incentives to agri-tech startups for improving accessibility to small farmers.
Industry body PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in its pre-budget memorandum, which was released earlier this month, had said: "To enhance the employment creation in the economy, we suggest further reforms in the agricultural and food processing sector with a great infusion of public investments in the agriculture infrastructure. Reforms in rural infrastructure logistics and cold chain are required as it would help in increasing the level of food processing industry and rural entrepreneurship."
It had further said that this would lead to increased participation in global agriculture and food exports. Exports of agriculture and food processing products should be increased to the level of $100 billion in the next three years from the current level of around $50 billion in 2021-22.
Even the central government is keen to mend its relations with the farmers, especially as the Lok Sabha elections are just a year away and as many as nine states are scheduled to go to the polls this year alone.
In July 2022, the government had set up a panel to ensure a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP), which is headed by retired agriculture secretary Sanjay Agrawal.
The committee was formed after the government had repealed the three controversial farm laws in November 2021, after a year-long agitation by farmers against them.
At the time of repealing the three laws, the Centre had promised the agitating farmers that it would look into the matter of ensuring a legal guarantee on MSP.
With farmers being a major vote bank in an agriculture-dominated country like India, the government may come up with sops for the farming community in the forthcoming budget.