The Congress today blamed the government for the agrarian crisis in the country and said that fixing of import-export levies on foodgrain was one of the biggest scams impacting the farmers. Initiating a short-duration discussion on the “farmers’ distress leading to rising in the incidents of their suicide” Digvijay Singh (Cong) accused the government of being “insensitive” to the plight of the agriculturists. He said farmers in Madhya Pradesh had faced bullets recently on the centenary of Champaran agitation in which Mahatma Gandhi had raised his voice against British exploitation. He termed the imposition of import-export duties on food grains as one of the biggest scams.
Singh said despite the bumper crop, import duty on wheat was reduced initially to 10 per cent from 25 per cent and then to zero in December, impacting farmers adversely as imported wheat was available at cheaper prices. Foodgrain imports, which stood at Rs 134 crore in 2014- 15, have risen to Rs 9,009 crore now, he said.Singh alleged that it was the wrong import-export policies which had led to imports of Rs 1,40,268 crore in 2015-16 as against Rs 56,000 crore in 2011-12. Singh quoted Swaminathan to say that import of agricultural commodities was like outsourcing farmers’ skill to outside.He said there is a need for fixing import-export levies by the Commerce Ministry in consultation with Agriculture Ministry.
Expressing concern over 42 per cent rise in incidents of suicide in 2014-15 in the country, Singh said agriculture has been reduced to loss-making proposition despite it contributing about 17 per cent to the GDP. The Congress leader also alleged that there was corruption in Food Corporation of India (FCI) and National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). He alleged that after demonetization, it was restrictions on cattle sale that had hit the farmers. He quoted Savarkar as saying that he was against ban on cow slaughter. Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh said that others in the Cabinet were helpless as it was PM who decided everything. He alleged that the crop insurance policy was nothing but to benefit industrialists