Budget again cheats farmers: Maharashtra farm panel head
The Union Budget 2020-2021 has once again cheated the farming community and the 16-point plan to tackle the Indian agrarian crisis is "an eyewash" as Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has failed to address the core issues afflicting the farm sector, a top agriculture activist said here on Saturday.
Analysing the budget, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari said that no solutions have been offered to the pending problems of the agro sector like costs, crops, credit and risk management that would contribute to doubling the farmers' income by 2022, as claimed by Sitharaman.
"The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre is trying its best to divert attention from the most serious economic crisis confronting the most deserving sector, agriculture, which is the backbone of the economy. The rural economy is facing a severe crisis and the utter collapse has resulted in farmers resorting to suicide around the country," Tiwari told IANS.
He alleged that this is the outcome of the wrong policies adopted in the banking, import-export, development, poor infrastructure and environmental issues due to climate change for which a comprehensive farmers bailout package was necessary, but has not materialised.
"Two weeks before the budget, we had written to the FM demanding Rs 3 lakh crore as a 'Special National Agrarian Package' and a 'National Commission for Farmers Rights', which could help end the agrarian distress in the country and end farmland suicides within 3-to-5 years. We are disappointed that it has not been considered," rued Tiwari.
On the other hand, the BJP-led government at the Centre has been pursuing the failed policies of giving bailout packages to banks, power sector, automobiles, FMCS, sick industries, commercial and service sectors, barring agriculture, he said.
All these efforts have failed and crashed the government's intentions to bring GDP back on the tracks, leading to the present recessionary trend and a looming economic crisis, said Tiwari, who is Advisor to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
He said Sitharaman has completely ignored the major demands of farmers, like minimum support price (MSP) for cotton and soybean to match production cost with a 50 percent profit margin, new crop loans to farmers after waiving their existing debts, introducing new technology in agriculture and irrigation, financial assistance for farmers' widows, education and health facilities for their children, etc, which can go a long way to reduce farmers suicides.
Tiwari urged that in view of the utter neglect of the agriculture sector by the NDA governments since 2014, it is high time the Central government considers agriculture seriously by announcing a hefty development package and export incentives, but instead it has resorted to relaxing import dues for oil and pulses.
He lamented that unless attention is given to the core issues bogging down the agriculture sector, instead of reducing, farmers suicides - which stand at an average of 3,000-plus annually in Maharashtra alone - may increase in the coming months all over India.IANS