All along the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, a couple of things stood out during my two-day trip to the region in the midst of the state-wide farmers’ agitation.
First, unlike our common perception, farmers
today are highly informed and well versed about their rights, government schemes and programmes. So, they would not shy away from claiming their due, be it from the district administration, state
that spread across Madhya Pradesh
and has been gathering strength since June 1 is also on account of many unfulfilled promises of both the Central and State
The immediate cause, though, is sharp crash in prices of all major commodities grown in the region, but there also is growing anger against tardy implementation of programmes and unfulfillment of promises both by the Centre
More than the promises, it’s there tardy implementation that is hurting the rural population more.
Central and state
schemes look good on paper but when it comes to actual implementation many things are still riddled with inefficiency and corruption.
In fact, as a farmer told Business Standard, the Central government
has enhanced the allocation for building houses under the Prime Minister’s Rural Housing Scheme
from Rs 75,000 per unit to over Rs 1,20,000 per unit, but the local patwari or other block official demand a cut before approving the unit for central allocation.
In the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana, farmers
said that the compensation paid is much less than the total premium collected which gives rise to the suspicion that the entire programme is being run to benefit insurance companies.
A delegation of Swaraj Abhiyan which tried reaching Mandsaur but was prevented from doing so by the district administration found that in Madhya Pradesh
banks deduct their loan installment from savings account of farmers
as soon as payment is received in them through mandis.
It is here that the role of local administration and officials become important. How the schemes or programmes or announcements can be of best use unless implementation issues are addressed remains to be seen.
It is in this perspective that the Madhya Pradesh’s government’s recent announcement of banning purchase of any agriculture
produce whose Minimum Support Price
(MSP) has been determined by the Centre
government in mandis should be seen.
government on Monday announced that all farm produce whose MSP
has been determined by the Central government
and the procurement process is on in mandis can’t be sold below MSP.
And in commodities where there is no procurement, the farm produce will have be sold at the maximum rate at determined through an open auction system.
also instructed all mandis to file a report with district agriculture
marketing board if any farm produce is being sold below MSP
for two consecutive dates.
This incidentally, also includes onion, where there is no Minimum Support Price
(MSP). The state
has also directed the mandi samitis to relax the quality parameters for procurement of farm produce.
One big cause of resentment among several farmers
of Madhya Pradesh
has been a sharp drop in onion
prices which does not come under the MSP
regime but has seen one of the biggest fall in prices.
In most retail markets, onion
is selling at 5-10 per cent less than the rate prevailing a year back. For onion
farmers, the state
government has decided to purchase all of their produce at Rs 8 per kilogram and sell it through fair price shops at Rs 2, bearing a financial burden of Rs 6 per kg.
Already, till last announcement MP
has bought around 300,000 tonnes of onions from farmers
in the last few days incurring a loss of around Rs 30 crore. Going forward, it is planning to step up the procurement and open more centres across the state.
It has directed mandis to enable farmers
sell their onions multiple times in a day and is himself monitoring the ground situation. For pulses, NAFED under direction from the state
government has decided to open 48 purchasing centres for urad, 80 for tur and 62 for masur and their numbers could be raised if there is demand.
But, the events happening since June 1 and the violence
that shook the country shows, unless there is an effective, proper and a corruption-free implementation of schemes and programmes and announcements are done both by Centre
government, challenges confronting India’s farm sector won’t go away soon.