The Government of Telangana is taking several steps to address the agrarian distress and to revive the farm sector in the State and also to revamp the rural economy by reviving the traditional activities such as, sheep rearing, fisheries dairy, etc.
Outstanding agricultural loan of Rs.17,000 crores was already waived in four instalments, thereby benefitting more than 35 lakh farmers in the State. In addition to this, we have recently announced an innovative scheme to provide investment assistance of Rs.4000/- per acre, in both the crop seasons, towards purchase of inputs such as, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, labour costs, which will benefit 55 lakh farmers cultivating over 1.50 crore acres in the State during the Kharif and Rabi seasons.
This will go a long way to revive the agriculture sector and help farmers to come out of the vicious cycle of debt trap. Government of India should support such initiatives by the State Governments to address the present agrarian distress.
In order to achieve the objective of doubling farmers’ income in five years, the following concrete steps need to be taken urgently.
(1) Entire country needs to be divided into crop colonies for specific crops, based on agro-climatic regions, so that the Minimum Support Price facility can be effectively ensured to benefit the farmers by preventing avoidable glut of certain commodities in the market.
(2) While agriculture production has increased in the country, productivity has not increased for most of the crops. For this purpose, continuous Research & Development is required and Government of India should support research through institutions located in different States.
(3) Vulnerability of the farm sector has to be minimised by taking the following steps:
(a) Expeditious completion of all ongoing irrigation projects by providing required support to the State Governments.
(b) Supply of adequate and quality power to the farm sector at affordable rates.
(c) Reforming the existing insurance schemes by removing the present operational difficulties.
(4) A thorough review is needed on imports of food-grains, oil seeds, oil products, textile, etc. so as to ensure that the produce of the country does not have to face undue extraneous competition or market manipulation.
(5) Agro-based industries must be encouraged pro-actively to facilitate value addition and enhancement of farmers’ income.
(6) Activities supporting agriculture which are in the allied sector, such as dairy, sheep rearing, fisheries, poultry, farm forestry, etc. should be exempted from the purview of income-tax, as these play a significant role in providing supplemental income to the farming community.
(7) Government of India has enacted the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 and notified the same as Central Act No. 38 of 2016 on 3rd August, 2016. It is understood that the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change is in the process of framing of rules and accounting procedures for effective utilization of CAMPA Funds. The process of consultation and drafting of rules is taking unduly long time, leading to inordinate delay in release and utilization of funds.
(8) There is a hue and cry among the farmers due to the scarcity of labour force in agricultural operations. In order to make MGNREGA more useful and productive to the agricultural operations, there is an urgent need to dovetail MGNREGA to agricultural operations, by including it under the permitted activities under MGNREGA.
It is suggested that 50% of the unskilled wages may be paid under MGNREGA and 50% by the farmers concerned. It will not only help farmers in timely agricultural operations, but also help ensure employment to the weaker sections of the society. This may be extended to those States who opt to avail this.