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Political populism spoiling farmers: Niti Aayog member (Relevant for GS Mains Paper II)

Loan waver not recommended
Farmers in India are being spoilt by politicians through populist measures such as loan waivers, and this can have an adverse impact on the agriculture sector in the long run, NitiAayog member Prof Ramesh Chand. This year earlier UP waived the loan of farmers. Now, Maharashtra has also promised to waive the loans of the farmers.

Prof Ramesh Chand called for adoption of reforms by states, including a model contract farming, to accelerate agricultural growth and reduce inequities.

Rising expectations of farmers
“Expectations of farmers are becoming more and more unreasonable,” Chand said. “They want free water, free fertiliser; they want loan waivers, and they want governments to pay 50 per cent of price of the cost of production. No country can meet these kind of things.”

Level of income of farmers
Farm income per cultivator in India as per NitiAayog estimates is Rs 9,761, and if a farmer has no other sources of income then as many as 53 per cent of farmers are below the poverty line, Chand said. “This speaks of a need to take farmers out of agriculture, or creating norms for employment for them. Even if we consider non-farm income of farmers, 22.5 per cent of farmers on an average are below the poverty line. In some states it is as high as 45 per cent,’’ he said.

The disparity in income between agricultural sector and other sectors has aggravated after 1991 due to lopsided reforms, which have not touched the agriculture sector, he maintained.

The NitiAayog is now aggressively pushing states to carry out reforms for liberalisation of the agriculture sector to improve farmer income and agriculture.

(Adapted from The Indian Express)



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