Beyond the News - FACT Analysis

Glimmer of hope in agricultural sector

The Fact News Service,
Misha Bhalla, May 19,
The second wave of Covid-19 posed an even greater threat to human life and the environment. The construction and service sectors have once again been hit hard. In the agricultural sector, however, there is a clear glimmer of hope. We will talk about the different crops. Farmers have no particular reason to be happy. Even a good crop is not enough to bring the income of the farmers to the minimum required level. In the last Kharif, farmers in Punjab and Haryana had sold their maize at Rs 800-1000 per quintal against the support price of Rs 1850 per quintal. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are selling the current crop at Rs 1,975 per quintal but farmers in UP, Bihar, and Madhya Pradesh are forced to sell the crop at only Rs 1,400 to Rs 1,600 per quintal as government agencies charge a support price. This time, only mustard and maize are being sold at 12 percent and 7 percent above the support price, respectively. Despite the production, agricultural income does not meet the needs of farmers and the aspirations and expectations of the next generation. The government claims to provide a 50 percent profit on the total cost of 23 crops with support price, but this too is available to only six percent of farmers on two or three varieties of crops. Is this justified for them?. 94 percent of farmers are forced to sell their produce below the support price. It’s time for the government to expand the government procurement network and extend the benefits of support price to the entire agricultural community. Fifty years after the Green Revolution, the Economic Survey 2016 has revealed the unfortunate truth that the average annual income of a farming family in 17 states of the country was Rs 20,000, which is less than Rs 1,675 a month. With this income, it is not even possible to pay the monthly fees of a primary school in an urban area. One has to wonder how these poor farmers and their families have survived in this situation year after year. In 1971, the MSP for wheat was Rs 76 per quintal, 10 grams of 24-carat gold was Rs 193, a 50 kg bag of cement was Rs 11 and steel was around Rs 180 per quintal. Today, wheat has a support price of Rs 1,975 per quintal and gold at Rs 46,000 per 10 grams. Thus, if 10 grams of gold could be bought with 2.5 quintals of wheat in 1971, now it would have to sell 23 quintals of wheat. The comparatively unequal prices of crops have further eroded the purchasing power of farmers. The central government’s target of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 does not seem possible. This policy needs to be redesigned. The meager income of the farm mentioned in the economic survey was not only what the farmer earned by selling the crop, but also included the value of the crop he kept for his domestic consumption. The point is clear, the agricultural crisis how deep it is getting. Leading agronomist’s recommended that the support price should be at least 50 percent higher than the average cost of production. The estimated cost of a family’s labor is particularly important, as it is a significant part of a landless farmer’s income and his entire family is engaged in farming. And the cost of opportunity is determined on the basis of income earned in other ways. That is why the whole system of counting has become blurred in the last few years. The result is that farmers are being deceived. Now the government has proved that it is going beyond the promise of support price. That is why farmers are still sitting on dharnas on the borders of Delhi. We can no longer see 60 percent of the population dependent on agriculture burning between their survival and bankruptcy.  There is a great need for the government to provide direct purchase assistance to small and marginal (medium) farmers at the support price of their crop. The list of beneficiaries of welfare schemes for agriculture should include farmers who cultivate all the time, not those earning more than two lakh from other sources. – National Commission for Farmers Welfare, decides together that the minimum income of a farmer should not be less than the minimum income of the lowest ranking government servant. – Direct income support through support price and payment to meet the deficit, these two methods may prove to be right to bring equality in income with other sections of the society. By relying on maximum procurement of crops at support price, farmers can be saved from market volatility. This will greatly improve the lives of the next generation of farmers.

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