Budget 2021

Extend PM-Kisan, pension scheme to tenant and old farmers: Vijoo Krishnan

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2020

The government should find ways to extend schemes like PM-Kisan to tenant farmers apart from giving pension to old farmers and broaden the scope of procurement to all States to tide over the crisis in the farm sector, says Vijoo Krishnan, Joint Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, the CPM-backed farmer association. Krishnan was instrumental in organising the Long March of Maharashtra farmers in 2018.

What do you think should be the major priorities for the government in the Budget?

Rural India is passing through one of its worst situations at present. Farm incomes are falling, leading to significant drop in rural spending. It is very apparent that PM-Kisan (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi), which is meant to put some money in the hands of farmers, didn’t really work. The government failed to extend the PM-Kisan benefit to tenant farmers — who form a major chunk of the farming community in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and Telangana, among other States.

How can rural distress be addressed?

The rural distress is acute. There is an increase in farmer suicides. Not just farmers, even a number of farm labourers are taking the drastic step. Many States are releasing latest data on farmer suicides.

It is said that there is a 40 per cent increase in suicides committed by agricultural labourers. The farmers are not getting paid for their produce.

The cost of cultivation that they incur is much more than what their produce fetch. How do you expect farmers with small holdings to survive? The government should introduce pension for small and marginal farmers as well as farm workers who are above the age of 60 years.

The government already announced a pension scheme for small and marginal farmers?

PM-KMY (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana) covers only young farmers who would get pension after 20, 30 or 40 years from now. What about the farmers who have already old. Why can't the government come out with a scheme for them?

What can be done to boost the agricultural sector?

The farmers should get fair price for their produce. The minimum support price announced for various crops is lower than actual cost of production. We have been demanding that the MSP should be 50 per cent more than the actual cost incurred by farmers. But the government hasn’t heeded to the demand of farmers. Even the existing procurement scheme is skewed towards a few States, leaving out farmers from most States. At least this needs to be corrected immediately.

Published on January 24, 2020

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