Modi’s Rs 6,000 income-support for farmers may do more harm than good; here’s what’s actually needed

By: | Updated: March 8, 2019 5:44 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs 6,000 per year income support scheme for small farmers may have good intentions, but in the absence of adequate structural reforms, the scheme may do more harm than good.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs 6,000 per year income support scheme for small farmers may have good intentions, but in the absence of adequate structural reforms, the scheme may do more harm than good. Indian agriculture continues to reel under distress with its output growing at only 2.7 per cent in Q3 of FY19 from 4.6 per cent in the Q2 of FY19.

The government launched PM-KISAN scheme in the interim budget 2019, following the model of Rythu Bandhu Scheme of Telangana and KALIA Scheme of Odisha. Under the scheme, the government will pay Rs 6,000 per year per household to farmers who own less than two hectares of land.

Many-a-times, governments announce cosmetic relief packages, while side-tracking critical issues, wrote former IAS officer Taradatt in The Indian Express recently. However, in the absence of reforms and development of complementary marketing infrastructure, the condition of small and marginal farmers may only become worse, wrote Taradatt.

These financial support schemes exclude sharecroppers, while overly relying on land records, which are often inadequate. Moreover, involving Gram Panchayats in identifying eligible beneficiaries may lead to the scheme’s politicisation and decentralisation of corrupt practices, Taradatt added.

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The income support scheme or loan waivers can help the distressed farmers only temporarily. Taradatt instead suggested the government to stress on structural reforms and investments in infrastructure for the long term relief of farmers. There is a need to create awareness among the farmers of the qualitative and standardisation aspect to ensure better returns.

Farmers need to be made aware of the qualitative and standardisation aspects to ensure better returns and break the shackles of intermediaries to whom they have to sell their perishable outputs at low prices. For this, the centre and states should work jointly, by investing heavily in critical areas and encourage the investments by the private sector.

Meanwhile, the PM KISAN scheme of the NDA government may be insufficient in achieving its target of doubling farmer’s income by 2022, wrote chair professor for agriculture at ICRIER Ashok Gulati in the Indian Express earlier this week.
He also pointed out to the need for structural reforms in market and trade policies prevailing in the agricultural sector, adding that the growth of this sector has a significant influence on poverty.

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