Agri Business

Do farmers have a retirement age, or is it a life long struggle?

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on December 24, 2019 Published on December 24, 2019

A representational image.   -  THE HINDU

Poor farmers find it difficult to pay even Rs 55 to Rs 200 a month towards PM Kisan Maan-Dhan Yojana

What is retirement age for a farmer, and what are the retirement benefits? What about his paid and casual leaves?

Farmers in Maharashtra are trying to find answers to these questions.

Recently, family members of 79-year-old Gajanan Kale from Bhandara district organised a grand ceremony to felicitate him, and announce his retirement from farming.

For 60 years, Kale toiled in his farm, and like other farmers, he believed that he will have to work till his last breath. But Kale’s children and family members convinced him to stop work and live a happy retirement life.

The procession was organised and standing on a decorated bullock cart, Kale bid adieu to his farm.

Kale’s family members and villages wished him on his retirement.

Kale told a local TV channel that taking leave from his farm was painful, but now he has handed over the reins to his children. He said hard work is the only capital a farmer has. His children asked if government employees could retire, why can’t farmers? Why not felicitate a farmer for working all his life? However, after retirement, Kale has to depend on his children for survival as he has no pension or provident fund.

Centre’s scheme

The Union government has launched Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan-Dhan Yojana (PM-KMY) under which a minimum fixed pension of Rs 3,000 is provided to the eligible small and marginal farmers on attaining the age of 60 years.

It is a voluntary and a contributory pension scheme, with entry age of 18 to 40 years.

The beneficiary is required to make a monthly contribution of between Rs 55 to Rs 200 to the Pension Fund.

“There are thousands of marginal farmers who struggle for survival on a daily basis. From where they are going to pay the monthly instalment for pension?” ask Ganpat Sawant, a farmer. He added that young farmers would not wait for retirement in farming, but they will quit farming.

The census shows that between 2001 and 2011, 9 million farmers quit cultivation for various reasons. The number will only go up drastically in the next few years, say agricultural experts.

The government has announced plans to double farmers’ income by 2022, but not many believe that’s going to help them regain their social and economic status.

Making agriculture profitable

Self-reliance is the best answer, say farmers in Hiware Bazar village in Ahmednagar district.

Farmers here have multiplied their income by conserving every drop of water and making agriculture a profit-making venture.

The average monthly income of the farmer here has increased from Rs 832 in 1991 to Rs 32,000 today, and hence they have a choice of taking leave from farming and also retire if they want.

Farmers in Hiware Bazar plan their holidays every year so that along with them, their fields also get a breather. They have developed a dairy business and about 4,000 litres of milk is produced daily. No family in the village is living below the poverty line because of profit-making farming and dairy.

Not surprisingly, it is farmers’ wish in Hiware Bazar when they want to stop working on farms and enjoy retirement life!

Published on December 24, 2019
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