Farmers see poor benefits

The Agriculture Department has suggested modifications to an employment scheme after it failed to fulfil the expectations of nearly one lakh young farmers who have invested in the scheme.

The department recently submitted a proposal to revitalise the scheme, which is awaiting government’s approval.

The employment scheme launched 18 years ago by the then UDF government had promised to generate jobs in the farm sector for the youth besides various other benefits, which included pension after the age of 60.

The members of the scheme, organised under the banner of the Kerala Farmers Union, on Monday complained that the scheme had fallen short of expectations.

One lakh jobs

This special employment programme aimed at generating jobs for one lakh youths through krishi bhavans. Those who joined the scheme with high hopes said it had been put on the back burner by the governments since its launch in 1994-95.

Santhosh Kumar, president of the Kerala Farmers Union based at Uleyeri in Kozhikode, said 1,04,312 youths had enrolled in the scheme, contributing Rs.1,100 each as share. Including the government’s share, the scheme now had a capital of Rs.200 crore over the years, he said.

Resentment was brewing among its beneficiaries as the scheme had not started yielding the promised results. Though its benefits had not been reaching the beneficiaries in full measure, 91 employees headed by a Joint Director of Agriculture had been deployed to keep the scheme going.

A committee headed by the Agriculture Production Commissioner, comprising representatives of Nabard, State Cooperative Bank, lead bank, and finance experts, had been given the responsibility of project implementation.

When the project was launched, the beneficiaries were promised bank loans up to Rs.1 lakh at 50 per cent subsidy, monthly pension of Rs.1,000 after 60, gratuity between Rs.30,000 and Rs.60,000, and financial support between Rs.25,000 and Rs.1 lakh to the next of kin on death of beneficiary, Mr. Santhosh Kumar said.

A senior Agriculture Department official told The Hindu that many of the benefits envisaged under the scheme had been either scrapped or changed in the proposal submitted to the government.

These modifications had became necessary to revitalise the scheme since the member-farmers had not been able to put up viable projects to avail themselves of benefits such as bank loans for which the subsidy was offered.

The new set of proposals contained measures to ensure that the farmers got better benefits from the scheme.

  • Recast proposal awaits government approval

  • Scheme launched

    18 years ago