Read the full article in The Hans India
The millet entrepreneurs expressed the need for ensuring an economic stimulus for entrepreneurs by exempting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in agri business sector from Goods and Services Tax (GST). A survey was conducted in 11 cities in 24 states and Union Territories as part of the Smart Food Initiative founded by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
There were suggestions for replication of the programmes for eggs and milk in the millets segment, too. Also suggested were inclusion of millet in the mid-day meal schemes and a role for SMEs in the mid-day meals programme for the poor. Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General, ICRISAT, emphasises, “Agribusiness is important to ensure agriculture is successful and profitable.
With COVID-19, we are recognising this even more through challenges across the value chain.” In a major finding, SMEs would vest faith in e-commerce after lockdown. Over 50% of the respondents sought more options for online sale, while 66% said they will explore new online channels post lockdown.
The results are being discussed with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which is working to address the challenges faced by the industry. P Ravichandran, Chairman of the Agriculture and Food Processing Sub-Committee, CII Southern Region, said, “Post COVID, millet as a healthy alternative option will grow in demand. Also, millet does not consume fresh water to the extent rice does, making its cultivation a sustainable food alternative.”
♦ Include millet in the mid-day meal programme and allow SMEs to participate in it
♦ Promote millets in the same measure as milk and eggs
♦ 70% of SMEs express need for economic stimulus and exemption from GST
♦ 50% of respondents sought more options for online sale