What govt can do to help farmers

Rural India in crisis as unseasonal rains affect one-third of rabi crop

GN Bureau | April 3, 2015



Unseasonal rains and hailstorms have continued well into April in many parts of the country, much to the dismay of farmers who are suffering heavy losses.

Crops have been destroyed in about 1.81 crore hectares of land in 13 states, according to the initial and conservative estimates of the agriculture ministry. The total area under rabi cultivation is around 6 crore hectares, and thus close to one-third of the rabi crops are destroyed.

Of course, two days after the initial estimates, the government revised the figure to only 1.06 crore hectares, after accusing the states of overestimation and over-reporting.

Various farmer organisations under the umbrella of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), however, maintain that the magnitude of the crisis is far beyond what the government claims. They say the official estimate does not include crop losses in states like Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Assam and the other northeastern states – and unseasonal rains are continuing.

At a meeting of peasants, agricultural workers and trade unions, they demanded the following measures to help the farmers:
 

  • Declare the crop loss across the country and floods in Jammu and Kashmir a national calamity and announce a relief package
  • Convene a special session of parliament and a meeting of chief ministers to discuss the situation
  • Form a joint monitoring group to oversee relief and rehabilitation
  • Waive all farm loans and ensure crop insurance payment taking account of losses in each field
  • Provide time-bound compensation for peasants and share-croppers covering cost of production, yield and income loss
  • Provide compensation for agricultural workers equivalent to the prevalent minimum wages for three months
  • Ensure employment under MGNREGA and supply free food grain to all affected families for three months
  • Provide inputs for the next season free of cost, making input providers and insurance companies contribute to a special corpus   fund
  • Waive electricity bills of farmers, share-croppers and agricultural workers


 

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