How to bail the farmers out from the damage caused by the coronavirus crises?

In the first part of the series ‘Corona and Farmers’, read about the 20 suggestions given by Chaudhary Pushpendra Singh, the president of the Kisan Shakti Sangh

Pushpendra Singh
| Updated: Last updated on May 13th, 2020,

The Rs 1.7-lakh package, which the government has announced after the lockdown, has new schemes worth Rs 73,000 crore while the rest of the schemes, worth Rs 97,000 crore, are already in operation. Whether it’s the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, the one which is putting money in the Jan Dhan accounts of women (Rs 500 for three months) is the only additional help.

The flower, dairy and vegetable farmers have suffered huge losses despite good production. Talking about the milk farmers, the government should have made a provision to distribute five liters if milk to each ration card holder, just like it is distributing dry ration. Assuming there are 3-4 people in each household, they would consume about 20 liters of milk in a month. The milk farmers are not able to sell milk. It would have taken care of this problem. It would have also helped the underprivileged kids in boosting their immunity.

But the government has offered to pay only Rs 2,000. The fruit, vegetable and milk farmers are not able to earn anything. Since the crop is not getting sold, the farmers don’t have the cash, so the rest of the Rs 22,000 should be given to the farmer within six months.

Pushpendra Singh (in the middle) with the farmers

Banks have a lot of money in the Reserve Bank. If the industry is closed, the money is not getting circulated. In such a situation, we should double the limit of the Kisan credit card. If it has a limit of Rs 3 lakh, they should make it Rs 6 lakh. The farmer’s credit card money is a safe loan anyway because banks pay much less money in proportion to the cost of cultivation while industries are able to raise more money on lesser goods.

Here are the 20 suggestions:

1. The PM Kisan allowance should be increased from Rs 6,000 to Rs 24,000 per farmer family per annum.

2. Double the limit of the Kisan Credit Card, interest rate should be 1%

3. All loans of farmers, payment of installments to be suspended for one year

4. Give a subsidy or exemption of Rs 10 per litre on diesel used by agriculture due to cheaper crude oil.

5. Prices of chemical fertilizers will fall as crude oil is cheaper. Hence, 25% discount on potash and DAP manure should be given.

6. Give bonus of Rs 250-500 per quintal on all Rabi crops.

7. Send Rs 1,000 per month to all the Jan Dhan accounts for the next three months.

8. Engage MGNREGA scheme workers in agricultural activities. If the wage is Rs 300, the farmers should bear the additional amount. This will provide farmers the labourer at cheaper rates and MGNREGA worker would also benefit.

9. Allow Aadhaar card to get ration quota from anywhere by granting it ration card status.

10. Buy all the available milk of the farmer at the rate of February. Distribute milk and milk products to the poor, patients, children and quarantine centres. The government should see what the price of milk was in the month of February.

11. Let all kinds of agricultural operations run smoothly.

12. Make immediate payment to sugarcane farmers by buying sugarcane of all fields.

13. Ensure smooth running of the supply chain of poultry, fisheries and other animal husbandry farmers and system of sale.

14. Provide workers and markets to fruit-vegetable farmers

15. Allow farmers and traders to buy and sell crops anywhere

16. Abolish the Goods and Services Tax on agricultural implements, food processing industries, manure etc.

17. Increase the budget of PM Gramin Sadak Yojana from Rs 19,500 crore to Rs 40,000 crore to provide employment to people who have migrated to villages.

18. Increase the budget of PM Gramin Awas Yojana from Rs 19,500 crore to Rs 40,000 crore to provide employment to people migrating to villages.

19. Provide free cylinders for six months under the PM Ujjwala Yojana.

20. Rs 1,000 in widows, elderly and the differently abled for next three months

Read the second part of the series here

Read the third part of the series here