Narendra Modi govt needs to do more to regain trust of farmers, say agri experts : The Tribune India

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Narendra Modi govt needs to do more to regain trust of farmers, say agri experts

Narendra Modi govt needs to do more to regain trust of farmers, say agri experts


Tribune News Service

Neeraj Mohan

New Delhi, June 10

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first act after being sworn in for the third time was to authorise the release of the 17th instalment under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. However, the new term of the NDA government under PM Modi faces the critical task of addressing the agrarian distress and implementing effective measures to uplift the farming community, ensuring their welfare and support.

Even as the move signals the NDA government’s attempt to win over farmers, a potential course correction also seems in the offing.

“Ours is a government fully committed to ‘kisan kalyan’ (farmers’ welfare). It is, therefore, fitting that the first file signed on taking charge related to farmer welfare,” reads a statement issued by the PMO.

But the Modi-led NDA government and new Agriculture Minister Shivraj Chouhan still need to do much more to regain the farmers’ trust and address the agrarian distress comprehensively, feel the experts.

This initiative appears to be an attempt to pacify the farming community, especially after the BJP faced significant losses in the northern region in the recent LS poll. The party lost many seats in areas dominated by farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana, where the previous Modi government was criticised for not fulfilling promises made to farmers.

Experts and farmer leaders have pointed out that the government needs to take concrete steps to rebuild farmers’ confidence shaken during the 2020-21 protests.

Agriculture expert Devinder Sharma said the release of PM Kisan Nidhi instalment was a routine quarterly exercise, and it did not necessarily signal a new commitment to farmers.

“The government needs to take a lesson from the LS poll results and undertake a course correction. Only 14 per cent farmers of the country get MSP while 86 per cent are involved in the cultivation of losses. The average income of a farmer’s household is nearly Rs 10,000 a month,” Sharma said.

He emphasised the need for a roadmap to genuinely double farmers’ income, highlighting that the current continuation of the scheme lacks significant new initiatives to address pressing agricultural issues.

He said the guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) in accordance with recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission could be a solution to the agricultural crisis. It could be a game-changer, providing much-needed encouragement to demoralised farmers, he added.

Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University, emphasised the need for market support to help increase farmers’ income by reducing the gap between producer and consumer.

“There is a need to boost storage facilities for the post-harvest management of perishable commodities, including vegetables and fruits, to avoid glut of agri-produce in the markets, which is a key reason behind sudden fall in the prices of such items,” he said.

Gosal also highlighted the need to increase farmers’ income and focus on mitigating the impact of environmental challenges such as depleting groundwater, deteriorating soil health and climate change.

Farmer leader Rakesh Tikait reacted to the formation of the new NDA government by urging for an open dialogue.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha claimed the BJP suffered significant losses in areas having strong presence of farmers. It urged the government to address the farmers’ issue and fulfil their pending demands, including guaranteed MSP.

Kisan Nidhi instalment a routine

The release of PM Kisan Nidhi instalment is a routine quarterly exercise, and it does not necessarily signal a new commitment to farmers… The govt needs to take a lesson from the recent LS poll results and initiate a course correction. — Devinder Sharma, agriculture expert

Need to boost storage facilities

There is a need to boost storage facilities for the post-harvest management of perishable commodities, including vegetables and fruits, to avoid glut of agri-produce in mandis, which is a key reason behind sudden fall in prices of such items. — Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, PAU vice-chancellor

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