‘Will Destroy Agri-Sector’: Farm Leaders Assail Nirmala’s Budget

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MUMBAI – Top farmers leaders from the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), Shiv Sena (UBT), and the Lok Sangharsh Morcha (LSM) on Wednesday launched a blistering attack on the Union Budget 2023-2024, saying it will “enrich the rich industrialists and destroy the country’s agriculture” in the coming times.

AIKS national Joint Secretary Dr Ajit Navale said that contrary to the promises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to adouble farmer incomes by 2022, there has been a steady decline in the peasants’ earnings from all fronts, to barely Rs. 27 per day, as per official data.

Shiv Sena-UBT’s farm face Kishore Tiwari slammed the Modi government saying it has again let down the tillers and pushed them to “despair” as the corporates in farming continue to prosper thanks to the government’s industry-friendly policies.

LSM President and activist Pratibha Shinde said that after destroying the country’s economy and handing it over to the big industrialists, the Bharatiya Janata Party government is now targetting the agriculture sector by compelling the distressed farmers to hand it over to the huge companies entering this sector.

Navale said that farmers incomes from crop production has plummeted to a jaw-dropping Rs 27/day, indebtedness is increasing as prices of agricultural commodities are reducing and input costs rising, and again belied all expectations the peasants had from the government.

Tiwari said that owing to the faulty policies of the Modi regime in the past 9 years, the number of farmers suicides has touched an all-time record of 325,000, and still counting, the tall promise of doubling farmers’ incomes is nowhere near implementation and remains another ‘jumla’.

Reeling off data, Shinde fumed at the manner in key schemes for the ryots have seen unpleasant cuts in outlay/funds – Pradhan Mantri Bima Yojana (12 per cent), PM Kisan Yojana (13 per cent), National Kisan Vikas Yojana (31 per cent) and Krishi Unnati Yojana (two per cent).

“The schemes related to MSP are completely canceled including the MIS-PSS scheme and PM-Asha scheme which are given to farmers for basic price and market intervention, besides this 18 per cent cut in the Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Scheme which is related to agriculture and labour. Yes, the PM hails it as the first Amrit Kaal era welfare budget for rural farmers and the middle class,” Shinde said.

Referring to the promotion of natural farming , mango cultivation on coasts, Rs 10,000-crore for cow husbandry, etc, Dr Navale said that these announcements ignored the basic issues like fair prices for agro-produce, debt relief, supplementary crop insurance schemes, compensation for losses suffered in calamities and other problems that trouble the farmers.

Tiwari referred to the problems of cotton and soya farmers who expected some relief but that was not given in the budget, leaving the country’s food-givers high and dry once again.

Navale also touched upon the problems of sugar producers, milk farmers particularly with cooperative milk producers shutting down, and the need to make the edible oil industry self-sufficient given the high import bills of Rs 1.17 lakh crore, and the painful neglect of the irrigation and power supply to agriculture.

“Given the recent Oxfam report that the richest 1 per cent of Indians own 40 per cent of the country’s wealth and half the population owns only 3 per cent, measures are needed to increase the purchasing power of the people, the workers, the middle-class, etc. Instead, the Budget will again help make the rich even richer,” fumed Tiwari. -IANS

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