There's no way this budget can lead to the desired four per cent agri growth. For that, the government has to realise that agriculture growth cannot come from foodgrains alone. It has to come from high-value agriculture—fruits and vegetables, livestock and fisheries. There is no incentive scheme streamlining the value chain. We were hoping to see a focus on organised food processing and organised retailing. But there was nary a word.
The biggest increase of 144 per cent in NREGS, which is more a welfare scheme and not a development scheme, is a cause of concern. We are yet to see a proper evaluation of the scheme. The good things are the focus on rural roads. The second welcome sign is the plan to have a nutrient-based fertiliser subsidy, which will pave the way for direct flow of subsidy to farmers. The biggest plus point of the budget is the seven per cent increase in crop loans for farmers, provided they are able to reach farmers now borrowing from informal sources.