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Agriculture and allied sectors employ over 50 per cent of India’s workforce and contribute over 18 per cent of India’s Gross Value Added (GVA). The sector was among the few to record a growth in the last fiscal year even as the economy shrunk and growth across sectors declined. At the same time, the agriculture sector in India is in great flux: calls for modernisation, better land use, improving farmer incomes, among others, has become more pressing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Doubling Famers Income’ campaign addressed these concerns and has had a tremendous impact on the country’s farming sector.

The focus on Indian agriculture and its progress is buttressed on either end by technological advancement and sustainability, ideals that are prompting the transformation within the Indian economy at large. In a continued effort to support the agriculture sector, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of measures in the budget for the 2023 fiscal year that will bring it in line with this economy-wide transition. The FM announced that chemical-free natural farming will be promoted throughout the country, Kisan Drones will be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records, spraying of insecticides, and nutrients, and digital and hi-tech services developed alongside public sector researchers, private agri-tech players and stakeholders of the agri-value chain will be delivered to farmers.

In his speech today, the prime minister elucidated the application of these ideas in India’s agricultural sector; a 'back to basics' approach married to the adoption of technology. He stated that the government will expand the concept of exclusive corridors (industrial economic, defence) to the agricultural sector by creating a Natural Farming Corridor. The first such corridor will run along the Ganga river across the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. This corridor will be 2,500 kilometres long and 10 kilometres wide, five kilometres on either bank of the river.

An embodiment of the desires and ambitions of India’s farmers, the PM further shared that this corridor will enhance the economic value of agricultural produce and become the epicentre of the transformation of farmers’ lives and India’s agriculture sector. Indeed, this groundbreaking concept brings national—and international—attention to the backbone of India’s economy. The Natural Farming Corridor emphasises the intrinsic scope for growth within the agriculture sector, its ability to modernise and add tremendous value to India's economy and the lives of its people. 

This article was authored by Aarushi Aggarwal.