As expected, the Centre has formally the 75,000 crore Pradhan Mantri Kisan Nidhi called PM-Kisan scheme to woo farmers. The launch of the scheme just before elections assumes significance because the opposition parties had been raising the issues related to farm sector distress, increasing number of suicides by farmers and non-implementation of M.S.Swaminathan report to provide remunerative price to farmers for their produce by deciding minimum support price on the basis of input costs.
During the last budget of the BJP government, the government had come out with an innovative and ambitious scheme to provide 6,000 per annum to farmers with certain riders. A month after the budget presentation, the government has quickly sent the first installment of 2000 each to over one crore farmers. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself officially launched the 75,000-crore Pradhan Mantri Kisan Nidhi (PM-KISAN) at a farmer’s rally in Gorakhpur. Immediately the Centre transferred the first installment of 2,000 each to over one crore farmers. The PM observed that the KISAN scheme would help to achieve the aspirations of crores of farmers who feed the nation. Following the launch, PM Modi also distributed certificates among select farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme.
As per the agenda, the State governments will send a list of farmers who avail this scheme to the central government and 12 crore small farmers in the country who have 5 acres or less land will benefit from it.
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM-KISAN) was announced in the interim Budget 2019-20 on February 1, 2019. Under the Scheme, 6,000 is to be given per year to small and marginal farmer families having combined land holding/ownership of up to 2 hectares.
With the launch of the scheme, the first installment of 2,000 is being directly credited to the bank accounts of selected beneficiary farmers. The Prime Minister congratulated the farmers for the launch of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi. He also congratulated farmer families engaged in dairy farming, and fisheries, as they now have access to Kisan Credit Cards. Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister said that this day is etched in history, because the biggest scheme for farmers since independence, has begun today.
The Prime Minister said that the Government is determined to make the farmers capable and empowered. He said that the Government is working to provide all the necessary means to the farmers, to enable them to double their income by 2022. About 12 crore farmers are expected to benefit from PM-KISAN. The Prime Minister said that through this scheme, 75,000 crore would be transferred to farmers’ accounts every year. He urged State Governments to send the lists of beneficiary farmers to the Union Government at the earliest so that farmers can receive the benefit of this scheme in time.
The Prime Minister said that while the loan waivers announced periodically by earlier Governments, did not provide long term or comprehensive relief to the farmers, PM-KISAN will not only provide them relief but will also mark a massive investment in the rural economy. The Prime Minister said that PM-KISAN depends on direct transfer, and therefore the entire amount will reach the beneficiary. He said that the Government is also investing about one lakh crore rupees to complete long pending irrigation projects, which will be of great and lasting help to farmers in many parts of the country. He also mentioned the 17 crore soil health cards, neem coating of urea, MSP for 22 crops at 50 percent above the cost price, PM Fasal Bima Yojana, and the e-NAM platform.
The Prime Minister said that farmers could now avail credit up to 1.60 lakh, through Kisan Credit Cards. He also touched upon other welfare schemes for the benefit of farmers. The Prime Minister said that the entire region of Eastern Uttar Pradesh is undergoing rapid transformation. Industry, Connectivity and the Health sector are all witnesses to this change, he added. He also said that about 10,000 crore rupees worth of projects for the development of Gorakhpur and Eastern Uttar Pradesh have been either inaugurated, or the foundation stone laid for them, today. He said these projects will improve ease of living. He said that schemes such as PM AwaasYojana, UjjwalaYojana, Ayushman Bharat etc are symbolic of the spirit of SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas.
The scheme comes on the heels of farm loan waivers worth 1.9 trillion given by 8 State Governments amidst protests by farmers. It all began with Uttar Pradesh where the BJP had announced during the Assembly elections that it would waive off the loans. Maharashtra followed suit. Then Punjab, Karnataka, and Rajasthan followed. The latest waivers were announced after Congress formed governments defeating the BJP in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
However, despite this sops, the farm sector continues to suffer. A study “State of Indian Farmers” by the Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) has found that given an option majority of farmers in the country would prefer to take up some other work. Poor income, bleak future, and stress are the main reasons why they want to give up farming. Around 18 percent of respondents surveyed said it was because of family pressure that they are continuing with farming. The survey of 5,000 farm households across 18 states says that 76 percent of farmers would prefer to do some work other than farming. Sixty-one percent of these farmers would prefer to be employed in cities because of better education, health and employment avenues there. A high percentage of farmers complained of repeated losses; 70 percent of respondents said their crops were destroyed because of unseasonal rains, drought, floods and pest attack. The report says that the benefits of government schemes and policies are being mostly given to big farmers having landholding of 10 acres (4.05 hectare) and above. Only 10 percent of poor and small farmers with average land holding of 1-4 acres (0.4 to 1.6 ha) have benefited from government schemes and subsidies. The farmers blamed the state and Central governments for their present condition as 74 percent of those interviewed alleged they do not get any farming-related information from officials of the agriculture department. The survey shows that 62 percent of interviewed farmers were not aware of the minimum support price (MSP) and among those who have heard about MSP, 64 percent were not satisfied with the price government offers. The study commissioned by Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS), a non-political association of farmers, has come at the time when the country is going to polls.