Bhubaneswar: For the last two years, the farmers have been very eager for the budget this year. But the Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitaraman finished the domain of agriculture only within two and a half minutes in her 90 minutes of speech. The political message of the budget was quite clear to understand. The government might be taking the withdrawal of three anti-farmer laws as an insulting defeat rather than a lesson learnt from the farmer’s protest. And this is probably reflected as a grave impact on the current budget.
This budget was considered special for three major factors. Firstly, this was the first budget after the farmer’s protest. Therefore, the farmers were under the impression that they will get justice and be included in the economy of the country through this budget. Secondly, the economic slowdown occurred due to the pandemic and agriculture was the only source to keep the people of the country surviving despite the recurrent lockdowns across the world. It was hoped that farmers would be rewarded for that. Thirdly, the period of six years scheme which targeted to double the income of farmers will be ending this year. So, at least it was expected that the farmers would get a reliable account of their income. But this budget was lacking any kind of justice, reward or gratefulness towards the farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced in Bareli on 28 February 2016, in the next six years the income of the farmers will be double. For the last six years, the agriculture minister, all the political leaders of BJP and the Prime Minister himself have been using this double income slogan wherever they go. But at the time of outcomes, the finance minister did not utter a word on the farmers. According to the government’s committee report, the family income of farmers in India was Rs.8,059 in 2016. If this committee calculates the family income of farmers in 2022 by considering the rate of inflation, it has come to around Rs.21,146. But the income of farmers had increased to Rs.10.218 by 2019. After that, the government has stopped accounting. As per an estimation, the income of farmers has not even reached 12,000 rupees. The government should have presented the facts in the budget instead of avoiding this.
The farmers should have been rewarded through this budget for protecting the economy of the country for two years. The farmers were repeatedly voicing that they need a justified price for their produces, not a donation. The finance minister declared in her budget speech that the government has handed over 2,37,000 crore rupees to the farmers by buying a record amount of wheat and paddy. But when checking the numbers it came to notice that the government has bought less amount of wheat and paddy this year as compared to 2, 48.000 crore last year. This year, the amount of government bought has come down to 1,208 lakh tons from last year’s 1,286 lakhs. Similarly, the number of farmers taking advantage of selling grains has come down to 2.63 crores from 1.97 crores.
The government has scrapped the scheme ‘ASHA’ that was created by late Arun Jaitley this year. This scheme was helping the farmers to get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of the products. The number of grants for this scheme has reached only one crore after a constant decrease in the grants and last year it was 400 crores. The crops can be sold at a reasonable in the market so that in the last year’s budget the amount spent for this was 3.595 crore and in this year’s budget, only 1,500 has been allocated in this direction.
However, there is no sign of justice for the farmers in this budget. Last year in the total budget amount allotted for agriculture and concerned areas was reduced from 4.26% to 3.84%. Similarly, last year for the rural development plan, the allocation was 5.59%, whereas this year it has been reduced to 5.23%. For the Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance 16.000 crore plan has been curtailed to 15.500 crores. Last year about 97,034 crores were spent in MNREGA but in this year’s budget, this amount has become 72,034 crores. For the last two years, the Agri Infra Fund jas been in many discussions, for that the grant has been decreased from 1 lakh to 2,600 rupees. Last year, in this fund the government had given 900 crore rupees but this year it is 500 crore. The government has been claiming to support cooperative committees. But this year the grants for the producer organization of the farms have come to 500 crore rupees whereas it was 700 crore last year.
All these details clarify that neither the farmers got justice, reward nor did they get gratitude. The only good news here is that the government is going to see the farmers through drones, not by satellites. So it can be expected that the government will reach out to the land before the deadline.