The farmer has been the unwavering focus of Modi government ever since it came to power. Given that agriculture continues to be the main driver of rural economy contributing 16% of national income and providing employment to nearly 49% of the population, the farmers have naturally been the top priority of this government.
In last few years, there has been substantial increase in the agricultural production and productivity because of various policy initiatives of the government.
At the same time, the last few years has seen the terms of trade for agriculture continuously decline impacting farmers’ income, partly due to fall in food inflation since 2017-18 vis-à-vis non-food sector, and partly due to decline in international prices of agri-commodities.
Many of the piecemeal measures that other governments or parties sought to announce have always left out the small and marginal farmers out of their ambit. But it is they who often end up in debt, becoming easy prey for moneylenders.
Therefore, keeping in mind the small and marginal farmers, and with the larger view to double their income sooner than later, the historic “Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN)” has been announced. Under this scheme, all landholding farmer families, having cultivable land upto 2 hectares, will be provided direct income support at the rate of Rs. 6,000 per year, to be transferred directly into the bank accounts of these beneficiaries, in three equal instalments of Rs. 2,000 each.
PM-KISAN will impact around 12.5 crore small and marginal farmer families favourably. The programme will be effective as of 1st December 2018 itself and the first installment till the period of 31st March 2019 will be credited directly into the bank accounts of these small and marginal farmers. This direct benefit transfer also eliminates exploitative middlemen. This programme will entail an expenditure of Rs. 75,000 crore per year.
Since the scheme has adequately defined landholding farmer family as “a family comprising of husband, wife and minor children who collectively own cultivable land upto 2 hectare as per land records of State/UT”, it rules out scope for ambiguity and therefore leakages.
Further, not only will Aadhar be mandatory, for effective review and monitoring of the scheme.
In all, while the usual populist measures of loan-waivers and subsidies can have a temporary impact, this is an attempt to address the structural issues plaguing the farmer’s lives and their income, thereby, proving to be sensitive to the most vulnerable among the farming community.