Parliamentary panel exposes hollowness of Centre’s farm policy

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The Hindu, March 26, 2022

The hollowness of the Centre on its agriculture policy, including its promise of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022, has been exposed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing, headed by a BJP MP itself, Vice-Chairman of the Telangana State Planning Board (TSPB) B. Vinod Kumar said.

In its recent report, the committee has questioned the inefficiency of the Union Government and instructed it to find out the exact reasons for farmers’ income coming down, Mr. Vinod Kumar said here on Saturday. Doubling farmers’ income was one of the tall claims of the BJP since they came to power at the Centre and it was the staple item in all Budget speeches since February 2016.

As per a committee report on farmers’ income, the benchmark household income of farmers in 2015-16 was ₹8,059 per month and it was promised to be doubled in real terms, taking inflation into account. The targeted income by 2022 was ₹21,146 per month, he stated.

At the mid-way point of the six-year period, the estimated monthly income of farmer households in 2018-19 was ₹10,218 in nominal terms as revealed by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data released in 2021, Mr. Vinod Kumar pointed out. A projection for the next three years adjusting for the annual agricultural growth rates gave an estimated income of ₹12,445 per month in 2022.

A mirage

However, the targeted income of ₹21,146 per month as per the committee report on farmers’ income remains a mirage. Farmers incomes have been falling in most of the States and in four years, it has come down from ₹7,068 to ₹4,895 in Jharkhand, from ₹9,740 to ₹8,339 in Madhya Pradesh, from ₹11,428 to ₹9,877 in Nagaland and from ₹5,274 to ₹5,112 in Odisha, Mr. Vinod Kumar explained quoting the NSSO report.

At the same time, the statistics revealed by the Parliamentary Committee were also shocking as it has found serious lapses in the functioning as well as the efficiency of the agriculture department.

“How can a department that’s considered to be one the most important and that caters to the growth of the nation be so lackadaisical in its performance. A whopping ₹67,929.1 crore was surrendered by the department over the last four years, when other departments were grappling for funds, he said.

Stating that agriculture department is setting the bar high for unnecessary fiscal prudence with its inefficiency, Mr. Vinod Kumar appreciated the committee headed by P.C. Gaddigoudar for bringing out facts and appealed to the government to rectify its mistakes and rework its policies at least now.

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