Government weighs options for pre-poll farm package -Vishwa Mohan

-The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Will it be Telangana’s ‘Rythu Bandhu’ or Odisha’s ‘Kalia’ scheme which the Centre bets on in its much anticipated farm package ahead of general elections? Apart from these two schemes, the Centre is also looking at some proposals including area-based income compensation and waiving off premium for crop insurance and interest on loans for farmers who pay on time.

The Centre’s farm options are due to be unravelled soon even as a scheme where a fixed amount may be transferred directly to farmers’ bank accounts has been attracting attention. These proposals, it was speculated, could be considered by the Cabinet or be part of the interim Budget due on Friday.

The area-based income compensation (ABIC) scheme looks at the difference between actual price and state-mandated minimum support price (MSP) of all farm produce which is to be paid to farmers through a centrally assisted scheme. There is also a proposal to completely waive premium for crop insurance and waiving off interest on crop loans for farmers who pay on time.

“The intent is to support farmers and ease agrarian distress. We cannot hazard a guess on the kind of support which may finally get the Cabinet’s approval, keeping in view its sustainability and financial implications on overall exchequer,” said a top government official.

As far as cash support scheme for farm investment is concerned, the Telangana and Odisha models have been minutely studied. Under ‘Rythu Bandhu’ (Agriculture Investment Support Scheme), the Telangana government last year began supporting farmers by granting of Rs 4,000 per acre per farmer each season (total Rs 8,000 per acre per year, covering both Kharif and Rabi seasons) for purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and other investments.

The ‘Kalia’ (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) scheme of Odisha, on the other hand, is meant to provide Rs 10,000 per family per year as assistance for cultivation. This is, however, not linked to the amount of land owned and therefore it will even support share-croppers or cultivators who own little or no land.

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The Times of India, 30 January, 2019,

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