Nagpur: The Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) has demanded a whopping Rs 3 lakh-crore as a ‘Special National Agrarian Bailout Package’ to end the farmers’ distress in the country, a top official said.
VNSSM President Kishore Tiwari said this package would be on the lines of the packages for the power, banking, automobiles and FMG sectors which would help reverse the recessionary trends, economic and agrarian crises confronting the country.
“The agriculture sector is the most deserving, but it is currently facing a major collapse forcing thousands of farmers to resort to suicide each year, mostly due to the faulty policies in the banking, import-export, infrastructure and environmental issues,” Tiwari said.
He said the Rs 3 lakh-crore package would take care of development backlogs from various regions, help sustainable crop promotion, mega-micro irrigation schemes, farmers credit and infrastructure development needs.
The package could also address demands of Minimum Support Price (MSP), cotton and soyabean to match production costs with a 50 per cent profit margin, new crop loans to farmers after waiving their existing debts, introduce new technology in farming and irrigation, financial assistance to farm widows and orphans, etc.
He pointed out that progressive states like Punjab, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana have give farm loan waivers of more than Rs 2 lakh-crore plus a similar in terms of local subsidies and relief packages.
However, these have failed to bring succor to the farmers owing to the Centre’s policies like import-export, direct investment, a Reserve Bank of India-regulated farm credit policy and non-profitable Minimum Support Price.
The non-professional functioning of agriculture bodies and the NITI Aayog coupled with “hostile” ministers and experts reluctant to tackle these grave issues, necessitate a drastic overhaul in existing policies and programmes for the agro-sector, Tiwari urged.
“The government can compensate for the years lost with a serious look at the agriculture and rural economy sectors seriously with a generous development package for long-term benefits and ending the scourge of farmers’ suicides,” Tiwari said.
He drew Finance Minister Nirmal Sitharaman’s attention to the “utter failure” of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tackle the agrarian crisis and taking concrete measures to protect the farmers’ interests.
He reiterated his demand for a ‘National Commission for Farmers’ Rights’ on the lines of the National Human Rights Commission or State Human Rights Commissions (IANS report, Jan 8) which can tackle the entire gamut of agriculture sector and arrest suicides of farmers.
“We keep hearing that the FM is discussing the agro-crises with the government-aided NGOs or ‘friendly experts’, a second green revolution, etc, but none seem to have had any concrete impact on the lives of farmers who continue to kill themselves. Any more unfriendly measures will only trigger another spurt in farmers’ suicides,” warned Tiwari.
“The FM must display her genuine concern and generosity in the coming Union Budget 2020-2021 by making an allocation of Rs 3 lakh-crore, which will be a historic step to resolve the agrarian crisis forever,” he said.