Budget 2023: Agri industry positive about digital initiatives, accelerator fund

This budget will promote R&D, innovation, and digitization of agriculture apart from promoting disruption through the startup ecosystem

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New Delhi: The Union Budget 2023-24, presented by the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman has many positive announcements for agriculture. The industry stakeholders have expressed happiness on the renewed focus on digitalization and startups.
As per Ram Kaundinya, Director General, Federation of Seed Industry of India, “The project on ELS Cotton is a step in the right direction. We are currently producing only 25% of our requirement of 2m bales and the balance is being imported. We believe that a large level of research investment is needed as a part of this project in which the private sector and ICAR can work together and develop high yielding hybrids with ELS and other fibre characteristics. An allocation of Rs. 2,200 cr towards supplying disease free and high-quality horticultural planting material is a very good project. IIMR to be converted into a global Millet Hub is a very good idea. Private sector seed industry is already involved in a big way with Millet breeding, seed production and promotion among farmers.”
However, Dr Kaundinya expressed his disappointment that there has been no announcement of support to enhance research in seeds and technology. “We represented for restoration of the 200% income tax deduction of the research expenditure of seed industry. In order to face the challenges of climate change, natural resource depletion, newly emerging pests and diseases and stagnant yields research investments have to be stepped up by the private industry. We were expecting some incentivization of such investments which did not happen.”
Speaking ahead of the post-budget, Mr Vasu Naren, Managing Director & CEO, Sona Machinery, said: “With the agri budget being increased by 20 lakh crore, it calls for a massively positive step for the growth of the sector. Additionally, the Agri Accelerator Fund is a good step, it will help enable businesses to navigate government regulations and connect all stakeholders in the farm supply chain and network. This will be a game changer in terms of enhancing the agri value chain. Additionally, the focus on Amrit Kal which lies in a tech-enabled economy will only aid in the development of advanced machinery and infrastructure in all fields. Moreover, the focus on digital agri-infrastructure development will also aid in the development of a global workforce that will accelerate the agricultural economy and make it stand at par with global agri-infrastructure.”
“It is encouraging to see the government’s focus on agriculture, specifically setting up an agri accelerator fund for agri startups. This will accelerate the pace of innovation in a sector which is India’s biggest in the context of the employment it generates. The Government’s commitment to set up digital public infrastructure for agriculture will help the agritech startups to connect with more farmers and in turn enable them to realize better value for their produce. In addition to above measures, the plan to set up massive decentralized storage capacity will go a long way in helping the farmers by not only providing a respite from post-harvest loss but will act as a booster to increase the returns for them,” said Varun Khurana, Founder & CEO of Otipy.
According to Ravi Annavarapu, President, FMC India, “It’s largely a positive budget for agriculture. We welcome the government’s effort to modernize Indian agriculture with the introduction of digital public infrastructure for agriculture, Agri Accelerator Fund, Value chain linked PPP initiative on cotton, promotion of healthy planting material and enhanced agriculture credit target apart from farmers-led decentralized storage capacity build up through cooperatives.”
“This budget will promote R&D, innovation, and digitization of agriculture apart from promoting disruption through the startup ecosystem. We see this supportive of precision agriculture and make farming more sustainable. Agriculture loses more than INR 2 Lakh Crores worth of crops to biotic pressures. Government will do well to align the regulatory system to expedite introduction of newer technologies in agriculture,” added Mr. Annavarapu.
In his comments, Mohammad Azhar, Sector Lead, Government Initiatives, Villgro said “The government’s renewed focus on Green jobs in combination with Digital Public Infrastructure provides a huge impetus to incubators that are deeply invested in the Agri sector. This will fill a vital gap in this sector and is the need of the hour. The government’s unequivocal call for action on these fronts provide a certain sense of validation to some of the efforts innovators are forging ahead. In particular, the focus on Agri credits in the sectors of Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries plugs a huge void in this sector.”
In his comments, Deepak Pareek, Chief Growth Officer, Suumaya Agro Limited said, “The budget clearly demonstrates a focus on technology, innovation, and startups. This will unlock the sector’s potential and remove obstacles. Credit is the most significant input in agriculture, and the allocation of Rs 20 lakh crore for agricultural credit, an increase of 11% over the previous year, is a well-thought-out approach to boosting the sector’s performance. The government’s plan to build vast decentralised storage capacity will assist farmers in storing their crops and obtaining fair pricing. This will be a game changer for farmers in terms of revenue. The Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture will be constructed as an open source, open standard, interoperable public good, enabling inclusive farmer-centric solutions and assisting with enhanced access to farm inputs, market knowledge, and support for agribusinesses and agri-based startups.”
“Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her introductory speech for Budget 2023 emphasised encouraging steps for the betterment of the agriculture sector. An agriculture Accelerator Fund is to be set up to increase the availability of services and required inputs related equipment & facilities. Agriculture Digital Public Infrastructure and much more that will ensure the health of crops and awareness about support available to farmers. A push to the bio input resource centres – for the next 3 years one crore farmers will be assisted to adopt natural farming and 10,000 bio input resource centres will be set up is a welcome step,” said Rajesh Aggarwal, Managing Director, Insecticides India Limited.
“An integrated approach for a sustainable future, the agriculture credit target is to be increased to INR 20 Lakh Crore vs INR 18 Lakh Crore up 11.11% YoY for the enhancement and encouragement of the agro sector and upliftment of the farmers. Also, with an investment of INR 2,516 Crore for computerisation for 63,000 primary agriculture credit societies, the government has made an “agri push” for a better tomorrow. These steps will help the farmers to go to the next level of farming,” added Mr Aggarwal.
Ankit Alok Bagaria, Co-Founder, Loopworm termed the Union Budget 2023-24 “short and crisp” saying that the budget would help farmers, established businesses, and Startups in the Agri & Allied Agriculture space.
“The 6000 Cr infusion to promote fisheries would help Shrimp farming the most. Decreasing import duties on feed ingredients are going to help the feed manufacturers and help formalise animal agriculture but would lead to reduced margins for domestic feed ingredient manufacturers. For young startups, the agri accelerator fund is a good initiative but there was less focus to promote Agri-Startups at the growth stage. Funds to support Bio-based products to promote natural farming should boost the plant Bio-stimulant & Bio-fertiliser industry,” stated Bagaria, while welcoming the budget.
As per Vasanth Madhav Kamath Founder & CEO of Hydrogreens Agri Solutions, “Green energy, green farming, distributed bio fertile production centers, increase of agri credit to 20lakh crores, and a further push for agri accelerators are great actions to catalyze productivity while also nudge environmentally sustainable practices.”

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