Budget 2020 – Agriculture & Nutrition: What all to expect, what are experts suggesting

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Apart from coming in the midst of a global slowdown with an estimated GDP of around 5%, Budget 2020 by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is also important as it is the first one to be presented post-PM Modi’s 2019 general election win and the subsequent call for achieving a $5 trillion economy by the year 2024.

For the upcoming month, Agrigate Global will be engaging its readers around “Budget 2020-Agriculture & Nutrition Now”. As the time for budget presentation comes closer, here is what experts from the field of agriculture have to say around the upcoming budget.

Experts feel that Agricultural budget should focus on nutrition and women small-holder farmer security.

Basanta Kumar Kar, Member, Steering Committee, South Asian Policy Leadership for Nutrition and Growth (SAPLING), Recipient of Transform Nutrition Champion and Global Nutrition Leadership Award believes that a strategic shift from Food Security to Women Small Holder Farmer Security can make India a global pioneer.

“Traditionally, it is believed that food security can address farmers’ as well as nutrition security. In a country like India where malnutrition is all-pervasive and women smallholder farmers consist of the bulk of farmer population and producers are consumers, India should be the pioneer to address nutrition and livelihoods security through women smallholder farmer security. The budget should aim at promoting and protecting the interest of women smallholder farmers and encouraging farmers’ collective for better nutrition and livelihoods security.”

Moreover, according to him, the present National Food Security Act -2013 is grossly inadequate to address sustainable food and nutrition security in the country. India needs new national legislation on Food and Nutrition Security to deal with a) farmer’s security b) sustainable food and nutrition security c) food safety including management of food and nutrition value chain and d) preserving biosafety and biodiversity.

“India needs good governance and good policy on dry land agriculture and alternative medicine, MNREGA to support a kitchen garden, biofortified crop and dryland agriculture, conversion of Anganwadi centers into daylong crèches, Special Budget for Agriculture- Food Security and Nutrition, promotion of horticulture to increase dietary diversity, promotion of biofortified crops like moringa, a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for millet that is twice the procurement price of rice, establishing a Bio-Fortification Mission and Bio-Safety Authority are the need of the hour,” he adds.

Agriculture and forestry contribute to 24% of global greenhouse gas emission in the world (IPCC-2014 Report), and the government should now consider a special budget on climate-smart -nutrition-sensitive agriculture which should focus on developing a knowledge bank on Indian traditional practices, he concludes.

As per Professor Prabhu Pingali and Professor Bhaskar Mittra, Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition, If India wants to address undernutrition and over nutrition, then the country needs to promote the consumption of diverse food.

“To do so, India must promote crop-neutral food policies to encourage farmers to produce more of diverse food i.e. move away from a cereal-centric production system,” they further suggest.

“Food Processing, Agri-SKilling, and Agri-Consultancy, Automation of Farming and Group Farming needs due focus in today’s scenario,” says Praful Nikam – President Y4D Foundation.

Besides, extending support to Allied/Agri Linked Business is need of the hour.

Here are some of the expectations and suggestions which experts feel should be implemented in Union Budget 2020. Let’s wait and watch what all will be included by the Finance Ministry.