Farmers in debt, agrarian distress, outcry over water crisis, drop in revenue, weak monsoon, and expensive fertilisers – Even though these topics don't make it to the headlines anymore, farmers’ miseries cannot be hidden. Ironically, the ones who supply food to us, are the ones who sleep on an empty stomach. Farmers who grow crops for the entire country are the ones often pushed to end their lives.
As Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tables the first budget of Modi government 2.0 on 5 July 2019, it remains to be seen if the government’s forward plan and economic strategies will spell relief for farmers.
But what are the farmers expecting from this Budget? Here are a few areas that farmers hope the government will look into.
1. Money and Farm Labourers to be Included in PMKSS
The backbone of Indian economy, agriculture, contributes to 17% of the GDP. Half the population of the country is involved in farming. Just before the 2019 elections, PM Modi announced the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSS) in the interim Budget.
It promised Rs 6,000 to around 14.5 crore small and marginal farmers every year – which has been formalised after the first cabinet meeting. Rs 6,000 means Rs 500 per month, which is a paltry sum. The government needs to increase the amount. On the other hand, many farmers in the country take land on lease or work on share cropper. Which means such farmers do not fall under this scheme. Does it mean the government will include farm labourers in this scheme?
Double Farmers’ Income
In 2014, BJP promised to double farmers’ income by 2022. But how will this happen when they have not proposed anything yet? NITI Aayog too accepted that the increase in farmers’ income has been negligible.
As per the 2016 economic survey, farmers’ families earn less than Rs 20,000 per year. Which is less than Rs 50 per day in 17 states of the country. Farmers expect the government to chart a concrete roadmap to fulfil their promise.