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Monsoon Around the Corner – Did Government Cover Farm Sector from Lockdown Blues?

farm sector amidst the lockdown

In some parts of the country the harvesting season is in full force, and many parts now await the onset of monsoon in June to kickstart the next round of farming activities. In this backdrop, it is important to look how the government is taking care of the farm sector amidst the lockdown.

Priority Focus

When government announced relief measures for the vulnerable sections in the initial stage of the lockdown, an upfront payment of the PM Kisan installment was announced. During this COVID season ₹17,986 crore has reached more than 8 crore families of farmers.

Procurements of Farmers Produce

It becomes crucial in a situation like lockdown to ensure that farmer produce does not go to waste because of the restrictions on movement. Here also the administration took series of measures.

  • KISAN rail was announced in the budget.  During the lockdown period, Railways introduced 67 routes for running 567 Parcel Specials (out of which 503 are time table parcel trains) to supply essential commodities at fast speed. These trains have transported 20,653 tonnes of consignments across the country.
  • Post-2014 the union government has aggressively pushed for direct marketing of farm produce through e-NAM platform. In February this year PM Modi launched 10,000 Farmers’ Producer Organisations. All these initiatives are greatly helping the states in procurement of farm products during the lockdown. Read the details in our article Modi Govt Tried Agriculture Market Reforms for Long, And Then Came the Lockdown
  • Custom hiring centres for agriculture machineries and shops related to agriculture machineries are given exemptions. On April 17, the government launched the Kisan Rath app which is an aggregator of more than 11.37 lakh trucks and 2.3 lakh transporters.

The Support Price

Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Kharif and Rabi crops, including Paddy, wheat, pulses and oilseeds, is raised every season, ensuring a level of 1.5 times of the cost of production. The hike in MSP for Rabi crops has assured a return of 50% to 109% over cost of production of various crops. The centres for Rabi pulses and oilseeds have almost doubled from 1,485 last year to 2,790 this year.

The Security Net of Insurance

PM Fasal Bima Yojana has been made voluntary for all farmers. The union government now bears 90% of the premium subsidy liability for North Eastern States instead of the earlier 50%. Flexibility has been given to States to choose the risk covers and sum insured for benefit of farmers. During 2017-19 while farmers’ contribution has been over ₹9,000 crores, and crop insurance claims worth over ₹50,000 crore has been disbursed to the affected farmers. What is noteworthy is that the total claims paid during the lockdown period stand at ₹5,326.7 crores.

At a time when the nation is moving towards a graded lockdown exit, it is noticeable that the farm sector and the labor force are given relaxations on priority.