In her budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government would set up an agricultural-accelerated fund to encourage entrepreneurship in the agritech field. Additionally, the government will work more on digitalising the field of agriculture with latest technologies
The announcement is expected to bring some joy among the agritech founders, who hoped for sustainable development and digitalisition from the budget.
Live Updates | Union Budget 2023 News And Live Updates: FM Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget Speech At 11; Income Tax Slabs, Subsidy & Other Expectations Here
Amit Sinha, the co-founder of the AI agritech platform Unnati, pointed out that agriculture is a relatively long gestation business. “Funding sources in the infrastructure area need to have this in mind and build accordingly. Newer core agriculture technologies need to be funded and driven to wider adoption globally,” he claimed.
Sinha also pointed out, “Moreover, many changes to regulatory aspects are oriented only towards the physical localised scale of operations, while agritech firms are working across multiple states and locations.”
The government had introduced the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce Act 2020 to facilitating the trading of agricultural produce outside Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMCs). However, measures are yet to be taken to allow trade based on the PAN card outside APMCs.
Furthermore, despite the government allocating funds to improve the infrastructure at APMCs for installing testing and drying machines, the availability of these machines could be much higher.
Pankaj Dwivedi, Head of Business Development & Partnerships at nurture.farm, advocated increasing the number of APMCs, introducing digital platforms to help farmers sell produce at a fair price, delivering market price information, and regularly offering advisory, financial assistance, and best practices. He opined that setting up marketplaces focused on FPOs can also help drive demand and improve farmers' price realisations.
Taranjeet Singh Bhamra, CEO and founder of AgNext Technologies, noted that the government strengthened the Agri Infrastructure Fund (AIF) and Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanisation to provide subsidies for post-harvest and pre-harvest equipment, respectively. While the government has shifted its agricultural policies, there is still a long way to go.