Find out reasons for falling farmer income, take corrective steps: House panel to Govt

A parliamentary standing committee has asked the Ministry of Agriculture to constitute a special team to “figure out the reasons” for falling farmers’ income across several states and take “course corrective” measures so that the target of doubling the income is not missed.

The Standing Committee on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Food Processing, headed by BJP member P C Gaddigoudar, has made this recommendation in its report tabled in Lok Sabha Thursday.

The committee has also expressed displeasure over the surrender of funds — Rs 67929.10 crore — by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DAF&W) during the last three years.

Observing that the major task for doubling farmers’ income lies with the DAF&W, the committee said, “It appears from the reply furnished by the department that the department is far from doubling the income of farmers” and in some states — “between 2015-16 and 2018-19 i.e. in four years” — like Jharkhand, it has come down from Rs 7068 to Rs 4895; in Madhya Pradesh, from Rs 9740 to Rs 8339; in Nagaland, from Rs 11428 to Rs 9877; in Odisha, down from Rs 5274 to Rs 5112.

“This has happened when monthly agricultural household income of the country has been increased from Rs 8059 to Rs 10218, that in the opinion of the Committee is a praiseworthy and timely intervention by the Government to double the farmers’ income,” the committee stated in its report.

Taking note of the Situation Assessment Survey carried out by the National Statistical Organisation, it said the “question remains to be answered” thay “why in some states, monthly household income is declining between 2015-16 and 2018-19, when the lot of farmers perhaps remains the same or increasing elsewhere and whether the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare remains a mute spectator”.

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The committee recommended that the department form a special team to “figure out the reasons for falling farmers’ income in those states and take some course corrective measures so that the doubling of farmers’ income is not lost sight of”.

It also highlighted the large amount of budget surrendered by the department in recent years and asked it to identify reasons responsible for this.

The committee noted “from the reply of the Department that funds have been surrendered amounting to Rs 34517.70 crore, Rs 23824.54 crore and Rs 9586.86 crore during 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 respectively. “That means Rs 67929.10 crore have been surrendered by the Department in these years without spending,” it said.

The committee said it is “of the opinion that the surrender of funds” is “not at all a healthy practice” and “was mainly on account of less requirement under NES (North Eastern States), SCSP (Schedule Caste Sub-Plan) and Tribal Area Sub-Plan (TASP) Components”.

Expressing “displeasure over surrender of funds”, the committee recommended that the department “identify reasons” for “avoidable surrender of funds and take corrective measures to ensure that the funds are utilized fully, properly and efficiently”.

It also asked the department to look into the reasons for non-implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) by certain states. It asked the department to take necessary measures, address them in the best possible manner, and ensure that the scheme is made “more attractive and beneficial” for farmers, especially in those states which are prone to natural calamities.

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