BHUBANESWAR: Even as the country is witnessing a massive protest over three Central legislations on agricultural reforms and all parties opposed to the BJP demanding implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission report in letter and spirit, many farmers of the State are still ignorant about the new laws and the panel’s recommendations.
The few who are aware of the Commission’s report only talk about the minimum support price (MSP) with little knowledge about other key recommendations.Take for example of Dillip Baral, an educated progressive farmer of Nimapara block in Puri district. He had represented Odisha twice as a member to put forth the State government’s point of view on cost of production of foodgrains in the annual regional meeting convened by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices to decide MSP for selective farm produce.
“As far as my knowledge is concerned, the Swaminathan Commission has recommended that the MSP should be at least 50 per cent (pc) more than the weighted average cost of production. I am not sure about the other recommendations,” admits Baral.The farmers have no scope to know about the report as they are always busy in their fields. With no institutional support, their major concern is to save their crops from vagaries of nature and how to get better price for their produce, he added.
Identifying the areas that are major causes of farm distress leading to suicide of farmers, the National Commission for Farmers headed by Swaminathan had recommended the Centre to complete the unfinished agenda in land reforms.“Land reforms are necessary to address the basic issue of access to land for both crops and livestock. Land holdings inequality is reflected in land ownership. In 1991-92, the share of the bottom half of the rural households in the total land ownership was only 3 pc and the top 10 pc was as high as 54 pc,” the report noted.
“It is the job of the State government to undertake land reforms and majority of the actual tillers are sharecroppers. The issue is always debated in every Assembly session without any concrete result,” said a senior government officer.Of the other important recommendations, one was special programmes for dryland farming in arid and semi-arid regions, as well as for farmers in hilly and coastal areas, and enhancing the quality and cost competitiveness of farm commodities so as to make them globally competitive.
“Providing irrigation and better market to the farmers are jobs of the State government. The Centre has fulfilled many of the recommendation of the Commission like implementing PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana and providing legislative teeth for ‘one nation and one market’ to free the farmers from the clutches of middlemen,” said senior BJP leader and Kalahandi MP Basanta Panda.Odisha government is silent on issues where it has done nothing in the last 20 years. It has the habit of blaming the Centre to cover up its failure, he added.