NDA Policies and Agriculture

NOTE: This topic is being covered from an editorial of The Hindu. Points are good. But it is a biased narrative. So, just read the points and use them in your answers for factual enrichment.
  • Farmers Organisations are not satisfied by NDAs policies.
Arguments given by the farmers organisations:
  1. The government’s own Economic Survey 2018 has already conceded that farmers’ real income has “remained stagnant”, recording a 1.9% growth over four years.
    • The concrete promise of higher public investment in agriculture did not materialise; in fact, it has declined in terms of its share of GDP.
    • The new farm insurance scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, has consumed thrice as much money as earlier schemes without either increasing the proportion of farmers who benefited from it, or giving a fair claim to the farmers.
    • The promise of “welfare measures” — for farmers above 60, small farmers and farm labourers — was forgotten.
    • The National Land Use Policy was never enacted.
    • The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act was not reformed.
  2. The MSP promise:
    • The government actually reneged on its promise of ensuring “50% profit over the cost of production” to the farmers.
    • As pressure from farmer organisations mounted, the government shifted the goalpost in the 2018 Budget by changing the definition of cost of production for the purpose of calculating the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
  3. Not only did the government not fulfil its promise of “cost+50%” as MSP, it did not even maintain the routine annual increase in MSP. The government’s failure to implement the MSP that it announced forced the farmers into distress sale of Kharif and Rabi crops, amounting to at least ₹50,000 crore, in 2017-18.
  4. The central government’s response was limited to a revision in the eligibility cap for compensation and a routine raise in the compensation amount but also included cuts in contribution to States from the National Disaster Relief Fund.
    Choking the MGNREGS: The government’s lack of political will in implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has hit the rural poor in general and farm labourers in particular.
  5. From imposing Minimum Export Price on potatoes in 2014 to importing sugar from Pakistan, the government has followed anti-farmer trade policies.
    • Farm exports were systematically discouraged, leading to a decline in agricultural exports from $43 billion on 2013-14 to $33 billion in 2016-17.
    • Import of lentil, chana, wheat, sugar and milk powder was allowed that led to a crash in crop
  6. Demonetisation Impact: Demonetisation dealt a severe blow to agricultural markets, especially to fruit and vegetable markets, just when the farmers were recovering from the consecutive droughts. A sudden shrinking of cash led to demand contraction and fall in prices.
  7. Livestock Market: The government’s attempt to regulate livestock market by imposing ban on livestock movement and its protection to those guilty of lynching the suspected “cow smugglers” has disrupted livestock economic cycle, leading to loss of income and aggravation of the widespread problem of animals destroying crops.
  8. Tribal Land Issues: This government has diluted the Forest Rights Act and various other environmental and forest conservation laws substantially in order to help the transfer of common land and water resources from the adivasis to industry.
  9. The government made not one but four attempts to bring an ordinance so as to nullify the historic Land Acquisition Act of 2013 and take away the few concessions that farmers had won after 120 years. The government has effectively bypassed this law in the land acquisitions done by central agencies like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and has also allowed State governments to nullify the provisions benefitting the land-owning farmers.

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