Farmers feel left out - Budget 2011-12 is more concerned about the consumer than the farmer - Down to Earth

Farmers feel left out - Budget 2011-12 is more concerned about the consumer than the farmer A looming food crisis in the world and high food inflation rates at home made Pranab Mukherjee’s proposals to boost agriculture in his 2011 budget more keenly watched than usual. These are factors that clearly weighed with the finance minister who repeatedly said that his principal concern this year has been the continuing high food prices. The squeeze on the consumer who did not benefit from the seasonal fall in prices was a recurring theme in his speech.

But did the deepening agrarian crisis in the country which has seen no let-up in the number of distressed farmers taking their own lives determine his allocations? Going by the reactions of farmers’ organisations and agriculture analysts to his proposals, the finance minister, it seems, has not kept the farmer at the centre of his formulations. The domestic landscape has been darkened by freak weather in several parts of the country where frost and unseasonal and heavy rains have laid waste farmlands in half a dozen states. According to one estimate, crops in 7.5 million hectares have been destroyed in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Tamil Nadu. In past weeks, farmers in Madhya Pradesh, normally not high on the suicide index, too took their own lives after frost destroyed their crops.

So although Mukherjee announced a range of measures to keep up the momentum in agriculture, which has grown at an estimated 5.4 per cent during 2010-11 after two successive years of dismal growth (1.6 per cent in 2008-09 and 0.2 per cent in 2009-10), no one is cheering. Yudhvir Singh, general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, says the budget has completely upset farmers. “There is nothing for the Indian farmer in the budget,” he declares, dismissing even the increase in interest subvention from 2 per cent to 3 per cent as of no significance.

The other big farmers’ organisation, the Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS), is unhappy, too. “The budget misleads more than it reveals. The allocation for the agriculture sector is far below our expectations,” is the terse comment of its chairperson Ajay Jakhar.

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Post By: abhishek.r