Modi Govt gets poor grades in Agri Report Card released by farmer groups

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Modi Govt gets poor grades in Agri Report Card released by farmer groups

Nirmesh Singh

New Delhi | 31 Jan 2018

Questioning the Modi government, just ahead of the Union Budget 2018-19, for covering up the agrarian crisis in the country, Jai Kisan Andolan’s and other farmer groups on Tuesday released – ‘Kisan Green Paper 2018’, a report that reads ‘4 years, 4 budgets: What has this Central Government delivered?.

The farmer organizations criticized the Union Government for ignoring the farm crisis and for reneging on its promises of ensuring remunerative returns to farmers made ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The paper was jointly released by farmer organizations Jai Kisan Andolan and Rythu Swaraj Vedika, and agriculture policy advocacy group Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture.

Releasing the report, Yogendra Yadav, a member of Jai Kisan Andolan said, “This government not only went back on its electoral promise of announcing minimum support prices (MSPs) at 50 percent over costs, but also prevented states from announcing bonuses to farmers above centre-determined MSPs”.

“Public investments in agriculture have declined in the past four years and the just released Economic Survey also acknowledged that farmers are forced to sell below costs and farm incomes have been stagnant in the last four years,” he added.

The report has questioned the delivery of the Modi government’s aim of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022 as farm incomes are either stagnant or falling when inflation is taken into account, at a time when incomes of organized sector employees will see a substantive raise following implementation of the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission.  It has urged the government to establish a statutory farmers’ income commission to ensure basic living incomes for agricultural households.

It read, “To double real incomes in 7 years, an annual increase of 11% in real incomes (adjusted for inflation) was required starting from 2015-16. However, three years after the promise, the government has not even adopted a roadmap for doubling farm incomes”.

The report also said “Agri NPAs are only around 8.3% of the overall NPAs in our Banks. That reflects the discipline and ethos of our farmers, who repay despite adversities”.

“But the centre prefers to bail out industries rather than farmers”, it added

The report contains the analysis of data, which shows that net returns at MSPs for 17 crops out of listed 20 crops were significantly lower during the four years of NDA government, compared to the last term of the UPA government (2009-2014).

The report is also critical of falling budgetary allocations for livestock sector as a proportion of the overall agriculture budget, as it is a significant sector for small farmers.

It said, “It is seen that 281 crores (out of 312 crores allocation) were released to states in 2014-15, only 99 crores in 2015-16 (out of an allocation of 123 crores), and 249 crores (out of an allocation of 296 crore rupees) in 2016-17”.

The report also said that only four out of the 23 large irrigation projects targeted for completion by March 2017 were fully complete by December 2017.

It was also critical of the flagship crop insurance scheme, in which insurance companies made windfall profits due to low claims to payment ratio of 55%, while in several districts, high actuarial premiums between 30% to 58% (of sum insured) was charged by these companies.

“The performance as well as allocations for the much-hyped PMKSY has been highly unsatisfactory. This is of great concern, especially in the light of the challenges of Climate Change highlighted in the Economic Survey 2018’, the report said.

Farmer organizations have demanded for better price support policies, a comprehensive debt waiver package, a disaster mitigation fund, a credit guarantee fund for tenant farmers and doubling funds for irrigation schemes in rain-fed areas.