Coronavirus | Little for farmers in Centre’s package: Sharad Pawar

Sharad Pawar. File photo: PTI

Sharad Pawar. File photo: PTI  

‘Standing crops lost due to lockdown’

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and former Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has said that the package announced by the Centre would not bring any immediate relief to the distressed farmers.

Also read: Economic stimulus package | Details of ₹20-lakh-crore package announced by Nirmala Sitharaman in five tranches

“The package does not make any provisions for compensating the crop losses incurred due to the lockdown conditions,” Mr. Pawar said in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 16.

The ₹20 lakh crore package announced to provide financial support to boost the economy would not bring any immediate relief to the distressed farmers. “The standing crops have perished due to lockdown causing great losses to the farmers. In turn, they are facing a cash crunch & need immediate support to undertake ensuing kharif season activities.” He said he had earlier sought urgent credit relief measures like restructuring agricultural loans, cutting down interest rates, and extension of moratorium period for repayment.

Mr. Pawar said the condition of the farming community was worsening by the day due to the pandemic and the consequent lockdown. On the threshold of the monsoon season, the farmer was not prepared to initiate agricultural activities. He urged Mr. Modi to immediately intervene to ameliorate their misery.

Also read: Coronavirus package | Centre throws open all sectors to private players

“In terms of outlay, the agriculture aid and reforms announced by FM of ₹1.63 lakh crore is approximately 8% of the total package for a sector that provides the highest employment and ensures food security of the nation. Since these allocations are mainly supply-side oriented, it would take a long time for the ground level implementation of the same, specifically with regard to creating infrastructure. The demand side has already collapsed and is struggling due to income and job losses due to COVID-19,” he said.

Referring to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s intention to reform the Essential Commodities Act by deregulating prices of agricultural commodities like cereals, pulses, edible oils, oilseeds, onions and potatoes, Mr. Pawar said that would not necessarily fetch them attractive prices, unless the prices were fixed on the basis of cost of production.

Also read: Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan | It’s a ₹3.22-lakh-crore package, says Congress

“The packages announced for Animal Husbandry Infrastructure, Fisheries, Micro Food Enterprises, and Bee Keeping are a continuation of earlier policies. The government must clarify how the actual implementation will be done & how the funds will be disbursed in a time-bound manner,” he said.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 12:13:13 AM |

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