Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS), a non-profit farmers organisation, on Tuesday pitched for an increase in price of urea and a simultaneous decrease in price of potassic and phosphatic fertilisers, without bringing any added burden to farmers or the government.
This will incentivise balanced use of fertilisers in the country, said Ajay Vir Jhakar, Chairman, BKS, at the virtual pre-Budget meeting that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had with agriculturalists, agriculture experts besides trade and industry representatives. Representatives of the food processing industry later in the afternoon attended a separate pre-Budget meeting which was chaired by a top Finance Ministry official.
Currently, the price of urea is decided by the government and it has not been revised for several years. Because urea is cheaper than other fertilisers, farmers tend to use more of it and less of others, leading to imbalance in the soil. It was felt if the price of urea is increased and the price of other fertilisers are simultaneously reduced, some balance can be achieved.
BKS also made a case for reducing tax on diesel as it adds to food inflation and called for transport subsidy for fruits and vegetables.
Besides recommending that alcohol, an agricultural produce, be brought under the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) at the highest tax slab, BKS also suggested that government should tax unhealthy products having excess fat, salt, sugar and ultra-processed foods.
The government must target 2 per cent of overall agri GDP towards agri R&D over the next few years, BKS suggested.
Co-op union suggestions
The National Cooperatives Union of India (NCUI) chief executive N Satya Narayana suggested that viable Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) and multi-purpose societies be extended the same incentives that are currently provided to the Farmers Producers Organisations (FPO). This may help in enhancing the price of farmers’ produce after processing, NCUI said.
It also suggested that viable cooperatives must be included under the definition of MSME under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Scheme.
A case was also made for extending 80P deduction under income tax law to all PACS engaged in processing of agricultural produce, whether it is done with or without the aid of electricity. Currently, only those PACS that process without the aid of electricity are provided the tax break.
Phiruz Khambatta, Member, CII National Council on Food Processing, suggested that revenue expenditure incurred for providing agricultural extension services must be granted weighted deduction for income tax purposes.
The expenditure incurred on notified agricultural extension projects under Section 35CCC of Income Tax Act should be eligible for higher weighted deduction of 200 per cent as against 100 per cent, he said.
He also suggested that all public warehouses must be registered with the Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) in phased manner. To begin with, large warehouses having space more than 5,000 mt should be registered with the WDRA, the CII suggested.