Farm Experts Pitch For Scrapping GST On Agri-Inputs In Budget Wish List
A file photo of a tractor spreading fertiliser onto a field of wheat in India. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Farm Experts Pitch For Scrapping GST On Agri-Inputs In Budget Wish List

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Removing of Goods and Services Tax on agri-inputs, revamping crop insurance scheme, considering land lease rental for fixing minimum support price and banning futures trade in agri-commodities are among the suggestions made by farm experts during their pre-Budget meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

At the meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday, they also pitched for measures to promote organic farming, cut import duty from 30 percent to zero on live embryo, animal and semen, tweaks in electronic National Agriculture Market and revisiting Food Security Act.

This is the fourth pre-Budget meeting on agriculture and agro-processing sectors. Already, consultations with information technology/ startups, financial sector and industry have been held.

"There should be zero GST on every farm inputs such as fertilisers, seed and agri-equipments," Bharatiya Kisan Sangh's Dinesh Kulkarni told reporters after the meeting.

He said there should be no futures trading in agri-commodities as it benefits neither consumers nor farmers. He also urged the government to increase procurement of various crops at the MSP.

Bharat Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakkar demanded that the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana should be replaced with a new crop insurance and compensation scheme or set up a farmers disaster and distress relief commission.

Further, he called for reduction in GST on processed food and dairy products to 5 percent.

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"We want import duty on live embryo, animal and semen to be reduced to zero. The government should also expedite implementation of National Dairy Plan (NDP-II) at the earliest and make a budgetary provision," National Dairy Development Board Executive Director Arun Raste said.

The NDP-II, which aims to boost productivity in dairy sector, is estimated to cost $1 billion, of which 50 percent will be borne by the World Bank, 30 percent by the Centre and remaining 20 percent by implementing agency NDDB.

Consortium of Indian Farmers' Association Secretary General BD Rami Reddy said the government should consider lease rental costs while determining MSP for crops as recommended by the Swaminathan Commission.

There are a substantial number of peopl who do farming on land parcels taken on lease.

Other stakeholders pitched for building brands of Indian agricultural products abroad, accelerating depreciation benefit to agri-processing industry, encouraging development of farm ecosystem services and market intelligence systems.

They also recommended development of agro-medicinal forestry, crop diversification, revisiting of Food Security Act, extending subsidy to producers of green manure, biofertilisers and biopesticides besides steps for promoting large scale production of compost by utilisation of urban solid waste.

The farm experts also emphasised the need for expansion of multi-dimensional research in agriculture sector for development of new technologies and further suggested for promoting startups at the institutes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and agriculture universities for young students.

The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur and senior officials from finance, agriculture, consumer affairs, food processing, animal husbandry ministries as well as NITI Aayog.

Representatives from National Cooperative Union of India, South Indian Sugarcane Farmers Association, Kisan Foundation, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative, All India Spices Exporter Forum, NCDEX, Indian School of Business, Irrigation Association of India, National rainfed Area Authority and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, among others, were present.

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