Parkash Singh Badal advocates assured marketing, direct income support and crop insurance
Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate and effective policy and executive decisions in order to guarantee the assured marketing of crops along with a broad-based MSP regime and direct income support in the form of production subsidy as priority measures to fight the alarming agrarian crisis in the country.
In a letter to the Prime Minister today, Mr. Badal said that although loan waivers are necessary as a short term , emergency help to farmers, long term measures needed to be put in place in order to make agriculture remunerative and farmers economically self-reliant.
Lauding the Prime Minister for putting agriculture in the top drawer in his economic vision and for taking unprecedented and concrete steps towards the implementation of Swaminthan Formula for making farming a remunerative profession, Mr. Badal also PM Modi to “introduce an effective, meaningful and broad-based crop insurance scheme as a bulwark against economic misery facing the farmers today.” The scheme should be implemented in the spirit of cooperative federalism where states are responsible for designing the product and its implementation and Centre providing the resources,” he said.
He said that one of the best ways to help farmers in the long run would be to revisit the terms and the modus operandi of agricultural financing in favor of easy and productive agricultural financing regime. For this purpose, he said, easy and soft crop loans should be made available to available to the farmers with maximum interest rate pegged at 3% and the agriculture investment credit should be provided at @6%, with subvention at @4%.
Adding that MSP in the absence of assured marketing becomes meaningless, Mr Badal said that a “proper marketing infrastructure for all the alternative crops for which the MSP is announced, on the lines of wheat and paddy in Punjab, should be institutionalized. The former
CM said that farmers were always willing and able to shift to any alternative crop or crops which the country might require provided the government puts an assured marketing with remunerative MSP in place, as was done when the country desperately needed the farmer to produce more wheat and crop.
In his letter to the PM, Mr Badal also said that budgetary outlay for farm research needs to be significantly enhanced to increase productivity and minimize risks to farm production.
Strongly advocating direct income support to farmers, Mr Badal said that ‘the beleaguered peasantry in the country was feeling crushed in the twin wheels of the vast gap between the prices of agricultural inputs and the overall costs of production on the one hand and woefully inadequate prices of agricultural produce on the other.’ He said that the declining size of the land holdings, lack of opportunities for off-farm employment to farmers and dependents and declining health and education services in the rural areas have further deepened the crisis. This he said has resulted in the “tragic specter of farmers’ suicides” across the country.
For these reasons, said Mr Badal, “Direct Income Support to the farmers has become an inescapable moral and economic obligation of the country towards its breadwinner.”
The former Chief Minister further pleased for an effective engagement and involvement of farmers as groups in the entire value-addition chain to help the farmers in the realization of better market prices for their produce. An elaborate infrastructure needs to be created either in the public sector or in PPP mode for providing effective pre-harvest and post-harvest management of farmers’ produce in crop-specific clusters.