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Tamil Nadu’s farm sector expects boost in rural income, consumption from Union Budget

CHENNAI: Boosting rural income and consumption is one of the main expectation from the farm and food sectors. They also expect other farmer-friendly measures such as an improved credit system to procure seeds and a waiver for food transportation charges to wholesale markets. Express caught up with various food sector associations and farmers for a mood check ahead of the budget.

Vettavalam Manikandan, President of Tamizhaga Vivasaya Sangam, demanded that subsidies be given by the government as suggested by Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices. “Incentives for farmers for planting certain crops need to be doubled,” he said. Manikandan added that there must be commissions for planting crops like paddy.

A 2017 NABARD survey says, the average monthly income for an agricultural household is Rs 8,931 in India, and in Tamil Nadu it stands at Rs 9,716. “Nearly 80 per cent of a farmer’s income goes in planting and transporting crops. The remaining 20 per cent goes in repaying debtors, and at the end, nothing remains in hand,” Manikandan said.

Farmers also said that there must be better investment on irrigation facilities and GST has to be waived off on farmer-produce and machinery like borewells, tractors etc. Meanwhile, people in the food and trade sectors said that if prices for transporting vegetables and fruits are waived off, it would benefit the industry as a whole.

“Transportation charges, including toll paid while travelling from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, costs Rs 3,000 per trip. It does not benefit traders when sales profit dips in the market,” S Chandran, President of Koyambedu Market Licenced Merchants Association said.

He added that the toll prices for transporting goods be taken off, along with farm-produce subsidy. “Transporting must be free for farmers to come to Uzhavar Sandhai,” he said.

Meanwhile, association members said that better infrastructure investments be provided in wholesale markets. Abdul Khader, Secretary of Koyambedu Vegetable Wholesale Merchants Association, said that most of the buildings are nearly 30-years-old and has leaky roofs. “During rains, both consumers and sellers are affected,” he said. He added that funding for a proper road, sanitation and lighting facilities will make it more appealing for customers.