Income support for farmers a progressive step, but not enough to mitigate stress

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Income support for farmers a progressive step, but not enough to mitigate stress The government’s proposal to transfer Rs 6,000 a year to marginal farmers will be a good first step but a lot more needs to be done to make a real difference to the agricultural community that is suffering because of erratic rainfall and low prices in recent years, said farmer leaders. 

“The PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme is a progressive measure to fight farm distress. An amount of Rs 6,000 a year to poor farmers will give stimulus to the rural economy,” said Ajay Vir Jakhar, chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj, a farmers’ forum, even as he expressed disappointment at the non-inclusion of tenant farmers. 

Others said the amount fell short of expectations of many farmers since many of them had thought that the government would give a much more generous package ahead of the upcoming general election. 

Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma said Rs 6,000 would not be enough given the severe stress the farming community was facing. “I don’t know how a financial support of Rs 500 per month will reduce farmers’ suicides and put them out of agrarian distress,” he said. 

Expressing similar views, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana founder Raju Shetti , said the direct income support of Rs 6,000 a year was disappointing. “It’s a disappointing budget. They should have waived the farm loan in totality or, if that was not possible, restructured it for defaulter farmers,” he said. 

Farmers’ leaders said the government should ensure that the first first instalment of Rs 2,000 is deposited by March this year. 

“This is just a mirage ahead of elections. If the first instalment is deposited in time, then only people will believe that whatever is promised in budget is delivered also,” said Amra Ram, a farmer leader. 

Besides, some people said, the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme has less to offer than other two similar schemes being run in Odisha and Telangana. “In Telangana’s Rythu Bandhu scheme, the state government provides Rs 4,000 per acre to each farmer in each season while the Odisha government gives an assistance of Rs 5,000 each in rabi and kharif crop seasons to a farmer under Kalia scheme, among other benefits . This is nowhere close to those schemes,” said Rajendra Chaudhary, secretary of Krishak Kalyan Samiti. 

Most people ET spoke to said the measures announced in the interim budget did not address the issue of increase in input costs incurred by farmers in recent years while prices of their output have remained low, often well below the minimum support prices announced by the government.

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By BOA Bureau