February 2, 2021 2:18:34 am
Amid the ongoing farmers’ protest in Delhi, agri economists in Punjab on Monday said that the Union Budget showed that the government had no intention of making MSP legal and it was still promoting the three controversial farm laws.
Principal Economist, Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, Prof Sukhpal Singh said: “Everyday 2000 farmers are quitting farming as per Agriculture Census, but there is no provision to rehabilitate them in this budget. Also, India needs 42,000 Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) against 7,000 currently, but there is no provision to increase their number. The budget rather says that it will connect 1,000 more mandis with e-Nam scheme which means to promote contract and corporate farming under the new laws…We had expected a much better budget in the ongoing protest and farm crisis but it is unfortunate that the government has just read the procurement data.”
Experts also questioned the statement made by the Union Finance Minister in her budget speech about paying 121 per cent and 171 per cent more price for wheat and paddy, respectively, to farmers compared to 2013-14. While questioning why input costs had not been presented for all these years, experts argued that paying more money to farmers does not mean that their income has increased. Rather farmers’ income has gone down, they said.
“If farmers were paid more by this government over the past six years, then why they are under huge debts, why they are still committing suicides and why they are sitting at Delhi border… To know the exact picture of farmers’ income, the data about the inputs cost on agriculture should also have been presented,” said Prof Sukhpal Singh.
He further said: “Government in a meeting on three farm laws and making MSP legal had said that it will put a burden of Rs 17 lakh crores on its exchequer if all the crops are procured on MSP and now when the Union minister is praising its government for paying
Rs 2.74 lakh crore MSP for various crops which is nowhere close to its own estimates it shows that the government has no intention to make MSP legal for all crops because there is no provision for MSP anywhere close to Rs 17 lakh crores.”
According the PAU economist, government has kept Rs 16.5 lakh crores for providing loan to farmers against Rs 15 lakh crores last year which is further pushing them into the debt net while it should have kept some amount for debt waiver and compensation for the kin of those farmers who have committed suicide. “They are not able to pay the interest on their loans and the government is ready to provide more loans to them which will ultimately make them quit agriculture,” he said.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that government has procured grains, pulses, cotton worth Rs 2,73,309 crore this financial year, Rs 2,13,017 crore in last FY against Rs 98,128 crores in 2013-14.
“When Union minister says that the number of wheat growing farmers benefited, increased to 43.36 lakh compared to 35.57 lakh in 2019-20, this number is also very low as compared to the total number of farming household which are over 14.4 crore in India now,” said farm expert and economics professor, Kesar Singh Bhangu, from the Punjabi University, Patiala, adding that this budget for farmers is directionless.
He also asked that the government is still saying that it will double the income of farmers by 2022 but still there is no planning for that.
“In past four years as compared to input costs farmers’ income has gone down and how it will be doubled by next year,” he questioned. “The way the government is moving ahead with its farm policies will surely bring their income to half by 2022,” he said.
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