(The Gist of Kurukshetra) NEW VISION FOR AGRICULTURE [JUNE-2018]


(The Gist of Kurukshetra) NEW VISION FOR AGRICULTURE

[JUNE-2018]


NEW VISION FOR AGRICULTURE

The government has taken a decision to provide minimum support price for all non declared crops of Kharif which will be least one and a half times the production cost. Such declaration is not enough. It is also important to ensure that the crops should also be purchased on declared MSP so that benefits accrue to the farmers. For achieving this it is necessary that if the cost of agricultural products is below the MSP the government should come forward to purchase or initiate such work plans through which MSP can be provided to the farmers.

The government has completed four years on May 26, 2018. The economic policies of the government have farmer centric focus. The Prime Minister has been reiterating the commitment made by the government to give high priority to agriculture development, increase in income of farmers and infrastructure development of rural areas and accordingly the policies of the government are made and developed. Keeping in view the interest of farmers more budgetary allocation has been made in the agriculture sector. The increase in the budget of farmers is a ground-breaking step. In the current fiscal, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced that minimum support price (MSP) will be given 1.5 times the cost of various agricultural commodities. By doing so, the government has attempted to fulfil the most important promise made to the farmers.

Many well-known technical experts and officials of the country have also appreciated this invention for its wide potential. However, due to the lack of adequate state support the patent holder of this turbine is still nowhere. Government should promptly come forward to support and encourage such farmers. Most of the government schemes, which can improve the condition of farmers, are not able to percolate to the ground as they don’t get the required push from the official network. The farmer who is neck deep in debt today is forced to sell his before evaluating the work done by the government in the agricultural sector, let us have a look at the work done for farmers earlier. Only then will we be able to understand the initiatives taken by the government. In post independence years, the agricultural sector has gone through many transformations. The first period since Independence of India is from 1947 to 1968, in which the expansion of sowing area, increase in irrigation resources and the land reform laws have played a key role. The second period is from 1968 to 1980 which saw use of high yield dwarf varieties, fertilizers, pesticides and new techniques. It is called the period of the evolution of the Green Revolution. The third period is from 1981 to 1991, during which the policy of minimum support price for agricultural products and arrangement of ensured nationwide government procurement and storage and distribution took place. The fourth period is from 1991-1998, which is said to be the period of liberalization, industrialization and the establishment of the World Trade Organizations. The fifth period was from 1999 to 2014.

As regards policies, the trend of relative prices has not been in favour of farmers. The price of agricultural products has been between 82% and 88% as compared to the price of other products. Due to this disadvantageous price system, farmers have to bear an average loss of 15 percent per annum in comparison to other sections of the economy. The direct result of this is that in almost every seven years the average income of a person engaged in agricultural work has gone down to half of the income of persons engaged in other occupations. Finding solutions of all discrepancies in the agricultural sector is awaited for long. This includes implementation of the comprehensive report of the National Farmers Commission 1976 and the final report submitted by the National Farmers Commission (Swaminathan Commission) 2004 on October 4, 2006. This report focusing on the causes of the crises faced by the farmers and the suicides committed by them recommend formation of a national policy for them. But unfortunately, till the year 2014, no initiative has been taken to convert these recommendations in to tangible policies and pushing forward their implementation process.

Prime Minister is determined to actualize the concept of doubling the income of farmers by 2022. To achieve this important objective, 3 new directions has been given to all three divisions under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare looking after various schemes, programs and missions. The government has also constituted an inter-ministerial committee for doubling the income of the farmers. in this committee, besides representatives from business and industry, scientists, policy-makers, economists and progressive farmers have also been included. The Prime Minister has said that” I want to double the income of farmers by the year 2022, when India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence. I have taken it as a challenge, but this is not only a challenge. This goal can be achieved through a good strategy, well planned program, adequate resources and good governance in implementation.

Keeping in mind the C-2 formula of the farmers 0 fix MSP, a ministerial group has been constituted under the chairmanship of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, which will soon express its views on this subject. In fact, this decision will prove to be a milestone for agriculture sector and farmers. In order to protect the farmers from natural calamities and other losses, old scheme has been modified and given the new name Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister's Crop Insurance Scheme). Premium has been reduced in this scheme and the process of payment of claim has been made easier. Further, the budget of this scheme has been increased by 44.59 percent i.e. from Rs 9000.75 crores to 13014.15 crores in the year 2018-19.

ln order to improve the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the Comptroller and Auditor General, i.e. CAG’s report, should be considered seriously. The CAG report, while focusing on the irregularities and shortcomings in the implementation of crOp insurance schemes by the financial institutions, said that farmers lose the claims of insurance due to sheer negligence by the banks. The agencies entrusted with implementation of crop insurance schemes have rejected farmers’ claims due to shortcomings in the proposals sent by the banks regarding insurance.

On one hand, this has benefitted the farmers who were perturbed due to the shortage of urea while on the other hand, the diversion to the urea industry has stopped and subsidy of government is saved. Through Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (Traditional Agriculture Development Scheme) native traditional techniques are being promoted. The production and productivity at all levels has been maintained and dependence on chemicals and fertilizers has been reduced. Work has also been started to digitize Land Records and in many states this work has progressed very well. In Telangana, after digitizing the record, work is in progress to link them with Aadhaar. There has also been a big transformation in the field of rural electrification. During the last four years, more than five and a half lakh kilometers of roads have been constructed in the villages of the country, which has resulted in better connectivity to the farmers’ market. Obviously, easy access to the mandi and market will give the farmers more benefits for their crops.

In last four years, schemes related to agriculture and a farmers can be called a good beginning by the” government. During the implementation of the schemes, many practical problems will emerge and there will always be a scope for their improvement, which should also be carried out from time to time. At present, the condition of farmers is not satisfactory and there is a lot to be done for them. The government has the spirit to do earnestly for the farmers. The government has not only devised excellent and concrete policies and programmes in the interests of the farmers, but also made all out efforts to implement them meaningfully. The nation will witness the positive outcome in the days to come.

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