New Delhi, December 6: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley began his pre-Budget consultative meetings with stakeholders yesterday. Separate meetings were held with representatives of agriculture groups and trade union groups.
In his meeting with the representatives of the different Trade Union Groups, Jaitley reiterated the commitment of the Government to safeguard the interests of the workers especially those working in the MSME and the unorganized sector.
It was suggested that for decades, India has constantly pursued ‘Food Policy’ and Budget 2018-19 is an opportunity to shift to ‘Farmers’ Policy’. There is need to reduce pressure on the land by creating off-farm jobs.
To ensure the delivery of remunerative prices to farmers, the ‘Price Deficiency Payment Mechanism’ must be implemented immediately for those crops where procurement cannot be ensured.
Other suggestions included that the Centre should declare an ‘Agriculture Debt Relief Package’ for the entire country which is used with matching contributions from the State Governments. It was suggested to double the number of farmers receiving loans upto Rs. 2.00 lakhs at the interest rate of 1% only and link Aadhar to such loan accounts to avoid duplication and also greater emphasis on Agro Forestry for income generation.
Other suggestions included to to give more focus on dairy, fruit and vegetable items which has potential to grow 3-4 times more and thereby can help in achieving the goal of doubling of the farmers’ income by 2022. It was suggested that there is need to start ‘Operation Veggies’ and focus should be given to TOP – Tomato, Onion and Potato as there is maximum volatility in their prices.
It was also suggested to have an Integrated Transport System so that farmers can send/take their produce to the far off market places where they can get better prices of their produce and in turn, help in containing their prices. It was also suggested that on the lines of other subsidies, food and fertilizers subsidy should also be given through DBT mechanism to avoid pilferage.
It was suggested that there should be more flexibility in farmer related policies such as ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’, electronic trading facilities and allow States to have their own policies as one Uniform policy cannot work in all the States. It was suggested to increase the prices of urea and decrease the price of PMK which will save money for both the farmers as well as the Government.
Similarly the Government was asked to initiate schemes to promote mechanization of farming, Agriculture universities to be made accountable for improving productivity and production in their hinterland and play pivotal in transferring knowledge from research lab to field among other.