HYDERABAD: Vice President Hamid Ansari gave a call for Grow in India on the lines of Centre’s Make in India initiative. Ansari was speaking at a national seminar on ‘Public Investment and Subsidies on Agricultural Inputs and Upliftment of Agrarian Economy’ in the city on Saturday.
“Half the country still depends on agriculture and it contributes raw materials to a number of food and agro processing industries as well. Industries running with raw material of agricultural origin account for 50 per cent of the value added and 64 per cent of all jobs in the industrial sector. Still, over three lakh farmers have committed suicide in the past ten years, thus highlighting the stress in agriculture sector. Perhaps it is the right time to put in place a Grow in India programme,” said Ansari.
Citing misplaced subsides, lack of proper expenditure planning in agriculture, lack of unity among farmers, as reasons for the prevailing distress in agriculture sector, Ansari said: “The recent mobilisation in support of demands for caste-based reservations in government jobs, and not for betterment in agri-sector, by communities that have traditionally benefited from agriculture indicates the growing stress in this field.”
Ansari also touched upon the topic of Direct Benefits Transfer to ensure that subsidies reach farmers.
“Enhanced public expenditure in agriculture sector in the form of increased investments rather than untargeted subsides is required to bring about change in agriculture. For instance, though Rs 73,000 crore was spent on fertiliser subsidy in 2015-16, only 35 per cent of it reached eligible beneficiaries. According to a report, while Rs 3 lakh crore is needed to provide irrigation facility to every farmer, only Rs 4,232 crore was allotted for 2016. At this pace, irrigation for all framers by 2022 promised by the Prime Minister appears to be a distant dream,” said Ansari highlighting the gaps and inconsistencies at the policy making level.
Stating that the rural-urban divide has been growing, the Vice President pointed out that economic justice for about 80 crore population living in villages cannot be achieved by just relying on migration.
“Though there has been migration from rural to urban areas, absorption of labour in urban economy has been slow, due to slow growth in employment in manufacturing sector.”
“Rural labour force will therefore have to find a way to improve their incomes in situ. Strengthening of agriculture thus becomes a national perspective,” he said.
The seminar was held as part of All India Kisan Sabha’s national conference. Farmers’ leaders and representatives participated.