Karnataka: Budget boost for farm sector, but no relief from loan burden

Farmers welcome hike in Minimum Support Price, Kisan Credit Cards extension to all.

Published: 02nd February 2018 02:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd February 2018 03:55 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: Union Budget with a slew of promises has evoked optimism in the farm sector. However the peasantry, which has suffered heavily due to successive droughts and farm commodity price crash in the state, feels let down as the Budget has no initiative to offer relief from the debt burden.Kuruburu Shanthakumar, president of State Farmers’ Federation, had expected categorical commitment from the Modi government on implementing the Swaminathan Committee report, which Modi had promised to implement within 100 days of coming to power. However, he welcomed the Budget proposal to raise the minimum support price (MSP) of agricultural commodities to 1.5 times the production cost.

The proposal is also to extend the MSP scheme to all the 89 crops. It was earlier restricted to 43. He also welcome Kisan credit cards extension to all farmers.Shanthakumar told The New Indian Express that declaring 100 per cent tax exemption for five years for farm produce firms being formed by the farmers is a positive move.

Though the Budget has assured huge expansion of crop insurance scheme under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the scheme itself suffers from many flaws. It needs to be revamped by making a village or farmers the basic unit of reference to pay the compensation instead of the present basic unit of a hobli or gram panchayat.“I will give this budget 5 marks on a scale of 10 for the farm sector and will ramp it up to 7 if effective measures are taken to implement the proposals in the remaining one of the Modi government,” Shantakumar said.

On allocating Rs 500 crore for farmers who grow perishable commodities like potato, tomato and onion, horticulture expert S V Hittalamani said in Karnataka there are some saline agriculture belt which cannot be used for agriculture purposes.

However, agriculture experts feel the budget does not help farmers. Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha president Kodihalli Chandrashekar said the budget outlay for agri sector is Rs 11,000 crore. “How much of it actually goes to farmers? Whatever money is announced is for the seeds, fertiliser, manure and other facilities. Budget does not speak about loan waiver,’’ he said.He further added that if the Centre can bear Rs 2 lakh crore to implement the 7th pay commission report, why cannot they waive the loan of farmers who are the backbone of the nation.

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