Farmers and agriculture experts in Punjab Friday termed the Interim Budget 2019-2020 as a “bundle of lies”, “concealed”, and a “rude joke” on the agriculture sector for which the government had been making claims about enhancing the minimum support price (MSP) of 22 crops, promoting diversification, and bringing in better crop insurance policies.
“This is the 6th budget of this government and the most hopeless for farmers where neither MS Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations have been implemented nor MSP for 22 crops enhanced. Government has cheated farmers by fixing the MSP according to its own convenience not as per Swaminathan Commission recommendations,” said agriculture expert Prof Gian Singh, who retired from department of economics, Patiala University.
He said that Centre has not provided any help in the field of diversification even though states such as Punjab where huge area was under water guzzling rice crop needed it immediately. “Potato produce is being sold at throw way prices and despite requests, farmers are not being provided even the rate equal to the production cost,” Gian Singh said.
“Even the crop insurance policy’s burden is being shared by the farmers and state governments as Centre is not supporting it fully,” he said, adding that in case of natural calamity too, Centre talks about rescheduling of loans and not a complete waiver for the affected farmers.
Dr Darshan Pal, state executive member of Krantikari Kisan Union said that the government should have given a respectable amount as monthly pension to farmers above the age of 60 “as they have also served nation like any government employee by filling country’s granary and such pension is the right of every farmer of this country”.
“To double the income of farmers by 2022 as promised by Modi government in its 2015 budget, government should have implemented Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations,” he said.
Bhartiya Kisan Union Ekta, (Dakaunda) general secretary Jagmohan Singh said that the Interim Budget has shown that Modi government was not at all serious and sensitive towards the agricultural issues.
“If government was serious enough, then it should have passed the private bills, which were brought in the Lok Sabha for discussion. One of the bills obligates the government to waive all loans of all peasants, including landless peasants, agricultural workers, sharecroppers, fishermen and includes declaration of private loans as null and void. Another bill obligates the government to regulate and decrease the cost price of farm inputs including diesel, seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, machinery and equipments, to set up a cost and prices commission to assess the cost of production, which shall include computing of paid up costs, family labour, rent of land, depreciation of capital inputs, interest and insurance costs (designated as C2 costs), and to ensure through public and private purchasing agencies that the farmers get a guaranteed MSP of C2 + 50 per cent,” said Jagmohan.
A small farmer Sarvan Singh of Gosal village in Kapurthala said that this government had dashed all his hopes. “Saanu mangte bana dita iss sarkar ne (We have been made beggars by this government) whose worth is not more than Rs 6000 annually,” he said.