Article originally posted on SiliconIndia.com.

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Dr Malini Saba, Founder & Chairman, Saba Group Holdings & Saba Family Foundations

A successful business woman and philanthropist, Dr. Malini Saba has been at the forefront of women’s rights and positively impacting the lives of low income and at-risk women and children worldwide

Farming is one of the most widely followed occupations in our country. In India, about 58 percent of our population is dependent on this sector for their survival while their produce is responsible for feeding about 16.8percent of the total world’s population. But these facts do not present the full picture. The truth is that in the past few years our agricultural scenario has witnessed a down-fall. While earlier it contributed 61percent to our GDP, today its contribution has reduced to only 19percent. This is mainly because of the many factors spiralling around the slowdown in the growth rate of output, which in turn is leading to declining farmer’s income and resulting in farmer’s distress.

Now in order to enhance the present farming status, efforts should be made to increase the growth rate of out-put. For which there is a need for sustainable management of resources like land and water.

The government is framing its policies and regulations with the main objectives of raising the productivity of in-puts by providing farmers with HYV seeds at low prices and introducing new irrigation projects, for protecting the interest of underprivileged agriculturists by proving them with subsidized food access and offering them MSP for their produce, and for enhancing cropping by multi-cropping and inter-cropping practices. Now on one hand where these policies are applaud able, on the other hand, they are not enough to erase the farmer’s distress. There is still a need for increased investment in the agricultural sector and a lot more needs to be done to support farmers financially.

These efforts by the government are bearing fruits and offering some comfort to the farmers. The MSP ensures the farmers that their yield will earn them some return while the availability of fertilizes, tools and HYV seeds at low prices are enabling them to purchase the necessary equipment for farming. Moreover, the government’s policies to protect the land and water resources in order to promote sustainable growth are encouraging agricultural development.

The Customs Tariffs on the Import of Agriculture Products
The custom tariffs on the import of

agricultural goods are an example of indirect tax that is levied upon the agricultural goods when they are bought into India from a foreign country. These taxes are calculated by adding up Basic Customs Duty and Customs Handling Fee. They are determined by the Central Board of Excise and Customs which is a part of the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

There are various non-tariffs measures that can be used to regulate the imports of agricultural products. These include reducing taxes on domestic agricultural produce, providing farmers with agricultural tools and equipment at reduced prices so that they incur low costs in growing crops and can hence sell their produce at affordable rates, and introducing measures to ensure that good quality crops can be produced in our country so that our crops can compete with the exported agricultural produce.

The government holds the power to decide tariffs on the exports and imports of goods in a country to protect its domestic markets from being flooded by international goods

The Focus of the Export Policies
India’s export yield policy is mainly trying to focus upon diversifying our export basket, in doubling India’s share in world agricultural exports, in following a holistic approach to boost exports, in marketing and promoting `brand India’, towards attracting private investments into producing and processing, and in following a farmer-centric approach to ensure increased income for farmers.

Taxes and subsidies on exports of agricultural products are permitted by the government in order to encourage the exports of Indian goods in the international markets. The government ensures this by offering tax relief for exporters.

The agricultural subsidies and other farmer facilities that are availed by farmers in India include loans granted to farmers at lower or no interest rates, Minimum Support Prices offered by the government on agricultural produce, subsidy on fertilizers, irrigation, power, seeds, etc. purchased by farmers.

The Future
The government holds the power to decide tariffs on the exports and imports of goods in a country to protect its domestic markets from being flooded by international goods. And India has been fighting hard to keep this mandate with itself. Recently, India decided to opt-out of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) because that agreement would have put the Indian domes-tic industry and agriculture at risk by forming a free trade area with 15 countries. Hence, this decision by the Indian government is in spirit with the opinion that India will continue to hold power on deciding policy space.

If a particular country is allowed to shield its agricultural produce from full tax on import and export tariff depends upon its own tariff policies and the trade pacts that it has signed with other neighbouring countries. If a country in question has entered into a free trade agreement with other countries then the power to decide its export and import rates will depend upon what has been agreed upon in the trade agreement.

An Insight on the measures to be taken to resolve the snags hindering agriculture and farmer’s growth
In order to promote agricultural and farmer’s growth in India, the steps that should be taken include-
• Domestic production of crops should be encouraged.
• Sustainable development of agriculture should be ensured where resources like land and water are used feasibly.
• Production of high-quality crops should be encouraged.
• Exports should be increased.
• Investment in the agricultural sector should be encouraged.