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Union Budget likely to hike outlay for boosting farm production

All eyes on India's grain production (Photo: IANS)

With food security now becoming a core issue amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and climate change, the Narendra Modi government is looking at multiple measures to boost farm productivity to be able to feed the country and also enhance exports of agri produce. As part of ensuring food security, the Union Budget is expected to raise the allocation for the farm sector with a focus on boosting production of millets, which has seen a decline in the last few decades. Besides, the use and exchange of information to understand the soil type and farming methods is also expected to be given a push.

A source said that a sizeable amount of money is expected to be allocated for creating an environment that boosts millet production and also increases awareness of its benefits and use. The distribution of millets as part of the public distribution system will be increased as well.

Millet crops, which take less time to grow, are drought resistant and can be produced in dryland. These crops not only require 70 per cent less water than rice but consume about 40 per cent less energy as well.

“The war (Russia-Ukraine) has reminded the world that availability of food is most crucial. India must be seen as the key global player in providing food security to the world, the Centre is working towards that,” a person with direct knowledge on the issue said, adding that the issue has been discussed at the “highest level.”

While a World Economic Forum report said that over 7,000 farmers are using artificial intelligence technology to monitor the health of their crops, perform quality control and test soil, the person said that this needs to be expanded.

India is the world’s largest sugar-producing country while it is the second largest producer of rice next only after China. India is also the second largest producer of wheat with a share of around 14.14 per cent of the world’s total production in 2020. India is also inching towards self-reliance in pulse production.

According to Inc42, the Indian agricultural sector is predicted to increase to $24 billion by 2025. The Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest, with retail contributing 70 per cent of the sales.

Also read: Millets & Organics 2023 International Trade Fair kicked off in Bengaluru