Secretary S K Pattanayak
on Tuesday said the introduction of the goods and service tax (GST), coupled with digitalisation, has helped in knowing how agriculture
income flows and to whom.
"All these days we did not know how agriculture
business is transacted. (With) GST, coupled with digitalisation, we will know who is earning," Pattanayak said at the inauguration of the Business Standard Agriculture
Round Table 2017. His comments came after the Union Cabinet, earlier in the day, cleared the raising of the minimum support price (MSP) for the rabi crop, which would be harvested in winter. The MSP
of wheat was raised by Rs 110 to Rs 1,735 a quintal and of pulses by Rs 200 per quintal to help boost the output of these crops and check prices.
Pattanayak said that agriculture
was no more about traditional crops. Instead, he said, it has to transcend through the use of knowledge.
He emphasised on the need to diversify, not just in agriculture
but also in animal husbandry, to supplement income. "Farmers have a choice to move from traditional crops to high-value crops and animal husbandry," he added.
Pattanayak underscored the need for irrigation, especially since more than 50 per cent of cultivable land is not irrigated. Further, some 99 major irrigation projects are still languishing. The government is, therefore, working on getting them started and close to 30 projects will be completed. "The government is making efforts for irrigation so that a second crop can be raised," said Pattanayak.
Besides diversification and irrigation, he emphasised on the need to make good seeds available and adopting the scientific use of fertiliser.
Pattanayak also highlighted the need to reform the functioning of agriculture
product marketing committees in the states. He said that the Punjab government had taken a lead in this direction.
Interestingly, the Union agriculture
secretary also pitched for using animal protein to tackle the issue of malnutrition in India, which has a large section of people who do not eat meat.