Concern was voiced in the Lok Sabha on Monday over the plight of farmers, with Opposition members demanding a stimulus package for agriculture and a special session of Parliament to discuss the problems in the countryside.
Raising the issue during the Zero Hour, Mr. Rajnath Singh (BJP) also wanted that MNREGA to be linked with agriculture, as there was crisis of skilled labour for working in the fields after the scheme was brought into force.
Mr. Rajnath Singh, who was supported by several opposition members, sought declaration of farming as a ‘national occupation’, given the fact that majority of the population depended upon agriculture.
He also wanted immediate implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations to tackle the “grim situation” facing the agriculture sector.
Mr. Rajnath Singh, who recently visited coastal Andhra Pradesh, said he was concerned over the decision of farmers of about eight districts including East Godavari not to produce paddy in view of not getting remunerative prices. “They are not able to recover even input costs,” he said.
He said the farmers from the area have declared “a crop holiday or a strike which is an unprecedented development in the agriculture sector in the country” and could affect food security.
Maintaining that a similar situation was facing farmers in other parts of the country too, Mr. Rajnath Singh sought Rs. 10,000 per acre as compensation to the affected farmers.
His party colleague K.D. Deshmukh pointed towards severe shortage of fertilizer in Balaghat and Seoni areas of Madhya Pradesh.
Mr. Deshmukh complained that despite government’s assurance ten days back that it would send a rake of DAP (Diammonium Phosphate) fertilizer each to the two areas, “nothing has reached the affected places so far.”
He warned that this would “adversely hit cultivation and lead to crop failure also” and demanded immediate action by the Fertilizer Ministry.
Forward Bloc member Nripendranath Roy also raised the problem of “very low” prices the jute farmers were getting in West Bengal and other States.
“Forget about profits, the jute farmers can’t even make both ends meet,” he said and demanded immediate hike of procurement prices from Rs. 1,670 per quintal to Rs. 4,000.
Haribhau Madhav Jawale (BJP) castigated the Finance Ministry for not releasing “already-approved funds” worth Rs. 558 crore for cleansing water bodies in Maharashtra, saying the rapid fall in ground water level was creating problems for the people and farmers.
“Despite the State being ruled by the Congress party, the Centre was not committing injustice towards Maharashtra”, he said.