Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said that agriculture will be topmost priority for government while tailoring Budget 2018 as the country has faced a downfall in GDP mostly due to poor performance of agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

India is an agriculture-centric country, hence a majority of Indian economy relies on agriculture and agricultural products – directly or indirectly. The second half of fiscal year 2017 saw with just 6.7% GDP and the first half of fiscal year 2018 is expected to slow down to a four-year-low of 6.5%. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) reports that the sluggish economic growth is mainly because of poor performance of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. As per CSO stats, the growth percentage of farm and allied sector growth to slow to 2.1 percent in the current fiscal year from 4.9 percent in the preceding year.

On Monday, Arun Jaitley said that India’s economic growth is not “justifiable and equitable” as long as the benefits are “clear and evident” to the agricultural sector. After reports of CSO, the Finance Ministry seems to have understood that there is no progress as long as India focuses on developing from grassroot level of country’s economy – the farming sector. That explains Government’s willingness to ensure that economic gains reach to the deepest of farming sector and a visible growth in agricultural sector, which will help in boosting the overall economic growth of entire. One can simply not ignore farms when in India.

That explains why Jaitley declared that the agricultural sector will be foremost priority while defining Budget 2018. Already working on that, Jaitley launched options trading in a farm commodity on National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) and affirmed the move will enable farmers to hedge their price risks better. This is the first time in India that agricultural commodities are included in NCDEX, with guar seeds to be one of the most important products that is expected to contribute a lot in future. With this launch, NCDEX has become the second exchange in India to be offering trading after MCX, but it is the first to avail agro-production option. The government expects that this inclusion will help farmers in receiving remunerative price for their produce – despite high production. Apparently, there is a lot to come for farmers in the upcoming Budget.