Budget 2019: Though the FM talked about 'Gaon, Garib and kisan', farmers are disappointed
For farmers in India, it wasn't an easy summer. They somehow survived the drought, but had Great Expectations from the finance minister. However, many of them felt that the Budget 2019 was a damp squib
Mithilesh Dhar 6 July 2019 12:55 PM GMT
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her first Budget in the Parliament on July 5. Farmers, who were hoping for some major announcements after surviving the drought, were not very enthused.
The budget talked about doubling farmers' income as it was not declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the fourth council meeting of NITI Aayog, but it didn't talke about Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers, which was something that the farmers were expecting.
A few days before Budget, the government had increased the MSP on Kharif crops. But several reports suggest that more than 90% farmers fail to avail the MSP facility. The government proposed to increase budget allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare by over 78% to Rs 1.39 lakh crore for the current financial year.
According to the Economic Survey 2017-18, in India 14.2 crore hectare land is fertile land. 52% farming is dependent on irregular irrigation and rainfall. Due to rainfall deficit, the cultivable land also couldn't produce as expected. On top of that, budget didn't make any big announcements. Out of 29 states, 24 received less rainfall in the month of June. This led to water scarcity in 250 districts.
At an event organised just before the budget, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Cabinet Minister in Ministry of Jal Shakti had told reports that we are hoping to receive adequate rainfall though the trends show otherwise.
In the Gaon Connection survey, 41% farmers in 19 states affirmed water scarcity and irrigation as their major concern. 43.6% farmers said that they do not get fair price for their produce.
Although Budget laid emphasis on dispensing fair price for farmers' produce, but it is a matter of doubt as no elucidation to the fact has been yet provided. It was also expected from the Budget that there will be a hike in holdings of Kisan Samman Nidhi.
The Budget also didn't mention solution for stray cattle. "The farmers voted for development of the country keeping aside their profits and loss numbers. Now, the onus is on the government to look after the well being of the farmers," said Yogendra Yadav, founding member of Swaraj Abhiyan and Jai Kisan Andolan.
In a tweet, Yadav said: "Budget 2019 proved to be a 'zero budget speech' for farmers. It didn't talk about drought, doubling the income of farmers, Kisan Samman Nidhi, yojana on implementing the MSP and solution for strays."
According to the report of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD-ICAIR), farmers have not earned fair price for their produce between 2000 and 2017, which accounts for a loss of Rs 45 lakh crore.
In 2015, Shanta kumar Committee was formed to suggest reorganization of Food Corporation of India (FCI). It reported that only 6% farmers avail MSP. It directly indicates that 94% Indian farmers are bereft of benefits of MSP.
"At least 5,000 relevant steps were expected to be taken for ease of doing farming. But this budget has proved to be other way round. There has been no discussion on several schemes for welfare of the farmers. Indian farmers expected that there will be discussion and decisions on farmers' suicides, MSP, empowering markets, loan waivers and long term for agricultural loans. But these issues were left untouched," said National President of Indian Farmer Union, Choudhary Naresh Tikait.
Strays are emerging problems that farmers face today. According to the last census in 2012, there are a total of 52 lakh stray cattles in India. In the past seven years, there has been a remarkable upsurge in this count.
According to the report of 'The Washington post' in July 2018, India has 52 lakh stray cows. These strays block roads in cities and damage crops in villages. More than 10 lakh strays reside in one state.
In the Gaon Connection survey, 43.6% out of 18,267 people admitted strays as their major problem. The budget was unpromising in this area as well.
90% work of farming is dependent upon machines. However, men and animal labor contributes only 5-5%, reports a study conducted by Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, located in Bhopal.
"Earlier, there has been burden of cost of electricity, water, fertilizers and seeds. But now, there's an added burden of fencing cost. It costs us a lot to prevent our fields from strays. Farming is not easy anymore," said Kavaljeet Singh resident of Barnala district in Punjab.