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India - Rescue farmers from debt trap

The Centre and the states should formulate suitable agricultural policies and implement them in earnest to rescue farmers from the debt trap and to save their lives, according to Dr. Y. Sivaji, the former member of the Rajya Sabha.

He made the plea in a representation to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi on Monday as a part of the pre-budget consultations being conducted by the Minister. Sivaji, an agricultural expert who resides here, has been participating in pre-budget consultations for several years.

Noting with regret the suicide of 5,650 farmers across the country in 2014, as confirmed by the National Crime Records Bureau, Sivaji said the farmers were forced to take the extreme step as they had fallen into the debt trap and there was no way out for them. “Agriculture in the country is a gamble with monsoon, and the input costs are soaring all the time. Droughts and floods ravage the crops and there is no relief for the farmers,” he complained.

The states were washing their hands off by announcing ex-gratia payments to the families of farmers who ended their lives and little was being done to address the problems afflicting the sector.

Suggestions

Stating that the minimum support prices announced by the Centre for various crops were highly unrealistic, he suggested that the states should announce the MSPs and they should be entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the payment of MSP. Further, the crop insurance policies should be reformulated to see that each farmer who loses crop gets the insurance on an individual basis and not on the basis of crop loss in a particular area.

Further, he suggested, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should be implemented in such a way that the farm operations do not get affected for want of labour. The village panchayats should be involved in the exercise.

He pleaded that economic liberalisation should be extended to the farm sector and farmers should be allowed to sell their produce anywhere in the country or abroad. He impressed upon the Union Finance Minister the need for urgent action to address the issues.

Source – thehindubusinessline.com

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