In the upcoming Budget 2018 it expected that the govt will stress on improving the rural economy of India and hence Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is likely to focus on agriculture with a view to improving rural economy and livelihoods.
This focus is likely to be expressed by policies and allocations to activities that ensure good prices for farmers’ crops, food and nutritional security for the population, minimum wastage and higher processing of produce.
It is important to note that enhancement in agriculture can be achieved through a combination of factors like reducing risks faced by farmers and increasing the rewards for their labour. Also the food processing and retailing industry should be focused upon as it will help address problems of food price volatility, reduction of food loss and wastage, and ensure efficient supply of safe and nutritious food besides creating more employment.
In addition, a more predictable policy and regulatory environment with the agility to react to the surpluses and deficits that may be caused by the vagaries of weather or global factors will be needed to prevent price shocks on the higher or lower side.
Recently, the government has increased the import duty on some edible oils and pulses.
However, leaving the import duties unchanged for certain oils like cottonseed and corn oil have left the job incomplete and will hurt the farmers growing these crops and distort the trade. Therefore, the government should make the duty hike consistent across different oils.
Hopefully the FM focus does give special weightage to Agriculture in India, which is in need of great help and support.