CSR may Play an Important Role in the Development of Agriculture Sector

Considering the agriculture profile of India and the small land holding pattern, sustainable growth in agriculture is a mammoth challenge both for the farmers and the governments. This not only requires policy responses to better connect the agriculture sector to markets but private as well as public investments both to create capacities. To achieve this, there is a need for coordinated agricultural development efforts and proper use of technologies to collect and disseminate information. In this process, the involvement of the corporate sector at different levels can be vital. As per Company Act 2013, corporates are required to spend a part of their earnings towards the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Many corporates are already spending a large portion of their CSR corpus in the agriculture sector. The strategic use of this CSR corpus can be very helpful in erecting and maintaining agriculture infrastructure and avoid overlap of different government schemes.

By clubbing CSR interventions and government schemes coupled with proper data management, the problems relating to the infrastructure as well as skilling bottlenecks and overlap in schemes can be addressed. This can be achieved by making CSR spending mandatory to all the qualifying corporates in the agriculture sector and pooling of the CSR funds to build and operate larger projects in supply chain and other infrastructure projects for agriculture. However this might look like an extreme response but considering the state of the agriculture sector, it would be very fruitful. It would not only help to accelerate the growth in the agriculture sector but also improve income of farmers. Tax benefits to the donations to project operating firms can also be explored.

Rajeev Upadhyay

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