Guwahati, January 20, 2019:
Arunachal East Lok Sabha constituency Ninong Ering will move the ‘Krishi Uthhan Bill’ in the upcoming session of Parliament. The Bill will assure a basic income to farmers.
The Bill suggests forming a national agricultural council comprising of farmers from all states in order to tackle the problems faced by farmers.
As per the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill, from the records of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), “A total of 12,602 persons involved in farming sector committed suicide during 2015, which accounted for 9.4% of total suicide victims (133,623) in the country,”.
As per a National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) survey, it was revealed that 70% households own farms up to 1 hectare (marginal farmers) and have an average monthly consumption that is more than the total income. This in essence means that 70% of the households are barely surviving in chronic distress with an average expenditure exceeding the average income.
The high fragmentation of land, heavy dependence on monsoon and fluctuating income are just few of the miseries through which the farmers are exposed to, in this country.
Although, the government has set up few safety nets to safeguard the farmers, Minimum Support Price (MSP) being the most popular one, none of them have worked in the desired way. Regular cases of distress sale during bumper produce are recorded each year. Further, majority of the marginal farmers are massively debt ridden. The condition deteriorates for the poorest of them who borrow mainly from moneylenders. With no or very little resort, many succumb and end their lives.
Today, when consumers buy farm produce, they only pay for the input costs and a negligible margin, if any. However, after the value is added to the agricultural produce by industries and corporate houses, they are being sold at massive profit margins. In addition to this profit generation, the farmer creates social benefits like fresh air, clean water, and sustainable livelihood for which they do not get paid for.
To overcome these problems, following steps have been proposed by the Bill:
Firstly, it proposes the setting up of a ‘National Agriculture Council’ constituting members from all states to deliberate on determination of necessary provisions of this bill.
Secondly, the levying of ‘profit sharing’ cess on the first point of sale during inter-state or intra-state supplies of agricultural produce meant for further value addition.
Thirdly, the distribution of cess collected in ‘agriculture risk fund’ to the distressed farmers for their welfare and development.
Fourthly, the Bill suggests the compensation by the center and states to farmers who have sold their produce below the MSP or any such price determined by the ‘National Agriculture Council’.