Interim Budget 2024-25 highlights importance of nutrition

The Interim Budget 2024-25 presented by the union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was just a vote of thanks ahead of the upcoming elections. The NuFFOODS Spectrum spoke with a few experts and took their reactions about the budget

Archana Sinha, Co-founder & CEO, Nourishing School Foundation said, “The Interim Budget for FY 2024-25 significantly highlights the importance of nutrition to all through an array of initiatives. The upgradation of Anganwadi centres under Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 is a welcomed initiative which will enhance the delivery of nutritious meals across the country. However, it is crucial to note that despite such fervent efforts to promote nutrition, there remains a lack of understanding regarding the importance of nutrition – according to a survey, over 85 per cent of Indians are unaware of vegetarian sources of protein. Additionally, the National Family Health Survey indicates that India still faces a double burden of malnutrition in both urban and rural areas – through the coexistence of undernourishment with the prevalence of overweight/obesity in the population. While there are several efforts underway to ensure accessible and affordable nutrition to all, it becomes all the more pivotal to improve nutrition education across the country to not only enhance self-sufficiency but also reduce India’s burden of non-communicable diseases among the future generations of India’s young adults and workforce.”

Jayanth Murthy, Joint Managing Director Kaizen Institute – India, South Asia and Africa said, “It is heartening to witness the due importance accorded to the agricultural sector – the backbone of our economy, in the budget. The initiatives aimed at boosting the income of our ‘Annadatas’ are particularly uplifting. This year, the budget’s intriguing focus seems to be on enhancing the trade capabilities of the agriculture sector – with an emphasis on fostering private and public investment in post-harvest activities (including aggregation, modern storage, efficient supply chains, primary and secondary processing, as well as marketing and branding).Additionally, the government’s focus on enhancing productivity in the dairy sector is a positive and encouraging move – with the announcement of a program to support dairy farmers, built on the success of existing schemes such Rashtriya Gokul Mission, National Livestock Mission, and Infrastructure Development Funds for dairy processing and animal husbandry.”

Sanjaya Mariwala, Executive Chairman and Managing Director, OmniActive Health Technologies Ltd., India and President, Association of Herbal and Nutraceutical Manufacturers of India (AHNMI) said, “The government’s mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ echoes through many initiatives. Extending healthcare cover under the Ayushman Bharat scheme to all ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers, Anganwadi Workers and Helpers is a welcome decision. And the confidence expressed by the FM in the recently announced India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor will further inspire the business community. The Corridor will also foster initiative, self-reliance and a comprehensive adoption of the ‘China Plus One’ strategy.”

Shammi Agarwal, Director, Pansari Group said, “Since this was an interim budget, there was not much regarding the FMCG sector yet we highly welcome the visionary strides that have been taken in the Interim Budget 2024. The emphasis on achieving Atmanirbharta for oilseeds, including sesame, sunflower, and mustard shows how the government is committed to pushing the agriculture sector. This is not only going to ensure food security but will also open avenues for sustainable farming practices which will benefit both farmers and consumers. Additionally, the launch of a pioneering scheme for biomanufacturing is a groundbreaking move. This initiative not only encourages innovation but also positions India as a leader in the bio-manufacturing sector. This bio-manufacturing scheme aims to promote green growth and we believe that it will be a laudable step towards building a more environmentally conscious and sustainable economy. By incentivizing bio-based industries, the government is not only supporting the development of eco-friendly technologies but is also encouraging businesses to reduce their carbon footprint. The 2024 Interim budget is nothing but a reflection towards a forward-thinking approach that acknowledges the importance of self-reliance, innovation, and sustainability. It is a blueprint for a resilient and thriving economy that will undoubtedly propel India into a brighter and more prosperous future.”

Nupuur Patil, Nutritionist said, “We commend the government’s strategic initiative towards achieving self-reliance in the production of oilseeds such as sesame, sunflower, mustard, and others. This approach holds promise in increasing awareness about the substantial benefits of incorporating these oilseeds into one’s diet, thereby contributing to a healthier Bharat. The emphasis on nutritional enhancement is further underscored by the commendable upgrade of Anganwadi centres through the “Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0” initiative, aiming to enhance nutrition delivery and foster early childhood care and development. In addition, the allocation of 43 crore loans, totaling 22.5 lakh crore under the PM Mudra Yojana, is a significant victory in supporting the entrepreneurial aspirations of our youth. This substantial financial backing aligns with the government’s commitment to fostering economic empowerment and innovation. Moreover, the announcement of a vaccination drive for young girls to prevent cervical cancer deserves appreciation. This proactive healthcare measure demonstrates a commitment to the well-being of the population, particularly in terms of preventive healthcare initiatives.”

Manish Aggarwal, Director, Bikano, Bikanervala Foods pvt ltd said, “We appreciate the government’s focus on the initiatives outlined in the Union Budget 2024-25. The acknowledgment of farmers as our ‘Annadata’ and the various schemes, such as PM-KISAN SAMMAN Yojana and PM Fasal Bima Yojana, providing financial assistance and crop insurance, demonstrate a commitment to the welfare of the agricultural community. The integration of 1361 mandis through the Electronic National Agriculture Market is a positive step towards creating a more efficient and connected agricultural ecosystem. This will not only benefit farmers but also contribute to the overall development of the rural economy. The comprehensive program for supporting dairy farmers, coupled with efforts to combat Foot and Mouth Disease, aligns with our belief in sustainable and inclusive growth. India being the largest dairy producer globally, the focus on enhancing productivity in the dairy sector presents a significant opportunity for the FMCG industry.The commitment to farmer-centric policies, income support, risk coverage, and the promotion of technologies through start-ups are vital elements that will contribute to inclusive, balanced, higher growth, and productivity in the agricultural sector. While we appreciate the emphasis on post-harvest activities, expansion of the Nano-DAP application, and the Atmanirbhar Oilseeds Abhiyaan, we believe that additional support for domestic manufacturing, particularly incentives for local production of raw materials and packaging through schemes like PLI for the food processing industry, could have further bolstered the FMCG sector. Nonetheless, it is a progressive budget, and we commend the government’s steadfast commitment to rural development and the agricultural sector.”

Simranjeet Singh, Director, CYK Hospitalities said, “As the network via road, rail, airport, and highway increases, it opens up opportunities for more travel, which creates a domino effect over the food and beverage industry as well. With developments like these and spiritual tourism coming up, the scope for established as well as new food brands has increased. The Finance Minister’s announcement to develop infrastructure across the country is a welcome step for everyone related to the F&B industry. The international and domestic brands will get a chance to penetrate more Nationwide, also giving a great employment opportunity.”

Karthik Jayaraman, Managing Director, WayCool Foods said, “The continuity of policy in supporting food and agriculture sectors is encouraging. The new proposals of PPP Projects in post-harvest management and value addition will help unlock entrepreneurship and value in the supply chain. In addition, entrepreneurs and startups are keenly looking forward to understanding the details of the proposed soft loans for R&D programs. This will help in creating explosive growth by driving innovation, and expedite reforms in sectors of national importance like food and agriculture.”

Prashant Vasan, CEO at Madras Mandi said,”As Madras Mandi, we extend our appreciation for the government’s unwavering support to our ‘Annadata’ through key budgetary initiatives. The direct financial assistance under the PM-KISAN SAMMAN Yojana and the extensive coverage of crop insurance through PM Fasal Bima Yojana underscores a commitment to the well-being of our 11.8 crore farmers, including marginal and small farmers. The integration of 1361 mandis into the Electronic National Agriculture Market, with a trading volume of ₹3 lakh crore, aligns with our mission to modernize agricultural practices and empower 1.8 crore farmers. The budget’s emphasis on farmer-centric policies, income support, risk coverage, and technology promotion resonates with Madras Mandi’s commitment to fostering a sustainable agricultural ecosystem. We applaud initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Yojana, contributing to value addition, employment generation, and the reduction of post-harvest losses. Madras Mandi looks forward to actively participating in the government’s vision, leveraging private and public investment in post-harvest activities for aggregation, modern storage, efficient supply chains, primary and secondary processing, marketing, and branding. Together, we aim for inclusive, balanced, and higher growth in the agricultural sector.”

Alekh Sanghera, Co-Founder and CEO, FarMart said, “Budget 2024-2025 is a great step towards a promising and bountiful agritech future. The budget provisions strengthened agriculture value chains through food processing infrastructure, and minimised wastage and crop insurance. We, at FarMart, echo the vision of PMKSY & PM-FME, bridging the farm-to-fork gap. Better market access and post-harvest management empower smallholders with sustainable income. We laud the government’s vision to boost productivity and farmer welfare through incentives around credit access, infrastructure, and public-private collaboration. This budget fuels India’s agritech ecosystem, ensuring local and global food security.”Sneha Singh, Acting Managing Director, The Good Food Institute India said, “We are heartened by the government’s robust commitment to infrastructure development, evident in the 11.1 per cent increase in capital expenditure in the Interim Budget. This is a crucial step in reinforcing India’s position as a global manufacturing hub. We also welcome the boost in public and private investment in agriculture and food processing. This strategic move is crucial for enhancing India’s export revenues, particularly through secondary and tertiary value-added agricultural products like plant-based meats, in addition to primary produce.The government’s recognition of technology as a pivotal element in India’s rapid economic growth is commendable. The proposed one lakh crore fund for interest-free loans spanning 50 years is a potential game-changer. It promises to catalyze private R&D in emerging novel sectors like climate-tech, agri-tech, and food-tech. The explicit mention of the ‘sunrise’ sectors being a focus of this fund is especially encouraging. Ensuring this finance reaches the most innovative solutions to both national and global challenges will be key, and will strengthen India’s homegrown innovation prowess. Furthermore, GFI India applauds the government’s initiatives towards sustainability and achieving a ‘net zero’ target by 2070—particularly the upcoming scheme on biomanufacturing. This aligns with our efforts toward bolstering the smart protein sector by leveraging India’s excellent biomanufacturing capacity, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable and resilient food system. Coupled with the emphasis on fostering entrepreneurship and upskilling and reskilling youth under the Skill India initiative, this can open new avenues for innovative sectors like alternative proteins.”

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