Everyone was eagerly waiting for the budget 2023-24 and finally it came. The last budget speech was of 38 pages and had no mention of terms like dairy or animal husbandry. This time our expectations were high as the budget speech was of 58 pages and had the word dairy mentioned 3 times and animal husbandry 2 times. Though it was not directly meant for the core dairy sector.
The budget allocation for animal Husbandry & Dairying increased from around Rs 3000 Crs last year to Rs 4327 Crores for FY 24. The country saw the impact of Lumpy Skin Disease epidemic in the last year. I think government has allocated slightly more than half of this budget to livestock health and disease control Program. In last fiscal the budget allocation for animal health was Rs 1390 crores only.
The Finance minister started by sharing her seven priorities in this budget as Inclusive development, Reaching last mile, Infrastructure and investment, unleashing potential, Green growth,Youth Power, and Financial Sector .
This year the government has merged all kinds of development fund in this sector and brought them under Infrastructure development fund. The Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) and The Dairy Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF) have been merged into one single fund. The total allocation for this Infrastructure development fund is Rs 340 Crores only.
The scheme for supporting to Dairy Cooperatives and Farmers Producers Organisation is also subsumed into it. The scheme is an interest subvention scheme to be implemented through NABARD with the objective to focus on processing and chilling infrastructure and milk adulteration testing equipment at village level. The budget provision is also for supporting working capital requirement of State Cooperative Dairy Federation (erstwhile Support to State Co-operative Dairy Federations).
The allocation for National Programme for Bovine Breeding,
A budget allocation to support Unions and state dairy federation has been raised to Rs 323 Crore from Rs 220 Crores last year. The budget for Rashtriya Gokul Mission has been kept at the same level as that of last year at Rs 600 Crores.
Indigenous Breeds and new scheme of National Mission on Bovine Productivity have been clubbed together under Rashtriya Gokul Mission. The scheme aims to conserve and develop Indigenous Breeds in a scientific and holistic manner to increase bovine productivity.
National Livestock Mission budget has been increased from Rs 350 Crores to Rs 410 Crores in this year.
The minister said 500 new ‘waste to wealth’ plants under GOBARdhan (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan) scheme will be established for promoting circular economy. These will include 200 compressed biogas (CBG) plants, including 75 plants in urban areas, and 300 community or cluster-based plants at total investment of Rs 10,000 crore. Presenting the Union Budget for 2023-24, she also said the government will facilitate 1 crore farmers to adopt natural farming. This would mean better use of manure and thus reduction in GHG emission from dairy sector.
The government initiated various schemes for inclusive development. I liked the idea of digital Public infrastructure for Agriculture. The minister said, this will enable inclusive, farmer-centric solutions through relevant information services for crop planning and health, improved access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance, help for crop estimation, market intelligence, and support for growth of agri-tech industry and start-ups.
However no one is interested in assessing the level of digital inclusion of the rural India. Digital payment directly to the farmers account does not ensure digital inclusion of the farmers. In case of women farmers it is not even the financial inclusion as money is going in the joint account of husband and wife.
Lastly , a few crores here or there were allocated to the animal welfare Board ( which is not inclusive of dairy industry) and veterinary council of India. Some small allocations were also done for skilling in this sector.
The government’s idea for setting up agriculture accelerator fund for encouraging innovative start-ups in rural areas is commendable. Target funding of Rs 20 lakh crore agriculture credit targeted at animal husbandry, dairy & Fisheries sector was the only part which will get better understood after a month or two.
The Fisheries sector with around 7 % contribution to Agri GVA got Rs 6000 Crores in this budget as against Rs 4237 Crores to the dairy sector which contributes 30%.
Today’s smile is a pain in disguise
At the end, the industry was expecting too much in infrastructure development in dairy cold chain , processing and quality infrastructure for clean milk production.
The budget doesn’t seem to be doing justice to the industry expectations as the budget allocation for dairy stakeholders is not even 0.4% of the size of this sector. In the next budget I would like to see at least a mention of woman dairy farmer in the speech of the Finance minister.
I, salute my brave dairy farmer , Laxmi, who will still be starting her day tomorrow at 4 AM in order to make agriculture sector in this country more meaningful and sustainable.
Source : A blog by Kuldeep Sharma chief editor , dairynews7x7