Manufacturing and modernizing agriculture : The government has recognised 13 sunrise sectors that will receive highest priority 

The finance minister stated that the government has determined which 13 sunrise sectors in manufacturing will be given top focus. The earth sciences, semiconductors, space industries, renewable energy, and material sciences are some of these sectors.

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that India’s resilient agriculture sector has been a major buffer against geopolitical upheavals like the Red Sea disruptions, which led many other countries to have a “long-term understanding” with India for food exports. She also said that the government continues to boost the sector with an increased focus on R&D with the goal of bolstering exports of value-added products.

Replying to a specific question on the features and future of Indian agriculture, she said: “We should be extremely glad for one thing. There are countries, including some very big countries, who are not self-sufficient in food grains, who are not self-sufficient in horticulture, who are not self-sufficient in milk. Who [are] certainly not self-sufficient in fish and poultry… And India Is self-sufficient… in all these.” In a few of them, India is both the world’s top producer and a viable exporter in terms of quantity produced.Whether your milk and milk products. Whether it is your horticulture, your fruits. India is one of the top exporters,” she said. The finance minister was addressing students of Hindu College in the Capital on the occasion of its 125th anniversary.

India’s foodgrains saw a steady growth in recent years

India’s exports of foodgrains saw a steady growth in the recent few years as the country’s share in world foodgrain exports rose from 3.38% in 2010 to 7.79% in 2022, according to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) data. Marine products, rice, sugar, spices, buffalo meat, wheat, castor oil, and processed foods were among India’s top agricultural exports. The United States, China, Bangladesh, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia are important export markets for Indian goods.

According to Sitharaman, although India is not self-sufficient in oil seeds and pulses, it is a major producer of cotton, coffee, tea, and rubber, among other commercial crops.”India is one of the top countries which produces high quality rubber, natural rubber… [which] is grown in Kerala and… the northeast.”

“We are one of the very fortunate countries in the world”

So, we are one of those very fortunate countries in the world — which is affected by war [Russia-Ukraine war and Israel-Hamas war], your Red Sea conflict – [making] movement of food grains becoming very, very logistically challenging and costly,” she said.

FM asked students not to waste food. “I, therefore, appeal to you, please don’t waste food. We may be self-sufficient, but there are a lot of people even today, who find it difficult to buy all that they want to buy. So be caring. Take as much as you want… Don’t fill your plate up and waste it. This is a wonderful country which can feed every one of us. But, we should not be greedy.”

So, that’s the feature. But what’s the future?,” the FM said while elaborating the second part of her reply. “The future is – there are a lot of countries which want to have a long term understanding with India for food exports. Processing of food. Export of processed food. Export of value-added food. Immense possibility exists in agriculture,” she added

The Finance Minister urged the youth to actively participate in farming

Addressing the youth of the country, Sitharaman asked them to actively participate in farming. “We are investing in R&D in agriculture, and I’m sure many of you who have interest in that area should go back to your respective villages. Even if there is a small holding, at least as a matter of hobby like pursuit. Start attempting to do something in agriculture. It’s so rewarding, not just financially, even otherwise,” she said.

In response to a follow-up inquiry regarding direct benefit transfer (DBT), the Aadhaar-enabled digital method that allows money transfers directly into the bank accounts of the impoverished, she stated that DBT not only stopped the theft of subsidies meant for the disadvantaged but also provided transparency and efficiency. She stated that it produced enormous savings because, since 2020, 44 programs operating under the DBT paradigm had prevented about ₹2.5 lakh crore from being siphoned by dishonest people by removing unintended beneficiaries.

According to Sitharaman, the government is dedicated to offering welfare benefits to all eligible residents, and it is almost there in a number of important programs. In order to create a “Viksit Bharat,” the Modi administration has empowered citizens by providing for their most basic needs.

She said that the Modi administration does not recognize individual differences. She said that the government of India has divided the country’s population into four categories: youth, women, farmers, and the poor. Efforts are made to improve the lives of these groups regardless of caste, creed, or religion.

By: Gursharan Kaur

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