Budget 2012 gives boost to agri extension
E Kumar Sharma March 16, 2012The weighted deduction in income tax on agriculture extension expenditure is a welcome signal to the private sector as it could encourage their role in the agri-extension services. "It has so far been given for agri research and today there is the know how available through agri research and this move will now help transfer these to the farmers,'' says S Sivakumar, chief executive, agribusiness, ITC.
The other important move in the Budget has been the mobile-based fertiliser management system. Pilots had been tried out in this space earlier and the budget seems to suggest that the efforts in this direction are on track. Though, it is a mega exercise.
"It involves networking some *quarter million retailers and 30,000 warehouses all across the country to track the fertiliser flow,'' says Sivakumar. But then, if done well, it could have huge implications for it could be used for cash transfers to farmers in several areas of agriculture and not just be confined to fertiliser.
Also, in the budget there are some initiatives that are futuristic in nature. For instance, reduction in the customs duty for farm equipment could boost efforts at farm mechanisation - crucial at a time when many rural youth in agri India are looking for jobs outside the sector causing labour shortage. The answer therefore seems to lie in encouraging farm mechanisation and therefore this move could have long term implications!
*(An earlier version of this story erroneously mentioned quarter million farmers instead of quarter million retailers.)