A seminar for preparing an agriculture/farmer-centric agenda for adoption by non-BJP national alliance is being organised by the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Associations (CIFA) here on Tuesday .
According to chief advisor of CIFA P. Chengal Reddy, it has become necessary to bring all voices raising concern over farmers’ issues together since raising the issue of farmers is being dubbed anti-BJP political stance although it is genuine.
He stated here on Monday that the farmer-centric agenda would have five key elements seeking enhancement status of Union Agriculture Minister by designating posts as Deputy Prime Minister with separate budget for agriculture and allied sector, reducing production costs by enhancing farm mechanisation by bringing down the cost of machinery by encouraging local manufacturing and scaling up.
Further, he stated that there was need to remove GST on inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides, tractors and micro irrigation implements, linking MGNREGS with agriculture at least by 50%, empowering States by arranging long-term overseas agreements for export investments, processing and technologies and democratising farm institutions, panchayats, market yards and commodity boards.
Mr. Reddy said liberalisation had bypassed farmers and created vast economic disparities. He explained that economic liberalisation of 1990s had benefited mainly service and industry sectors by propelling 10% growth over 30 years while the farm sector had stagnated at 2%.
Successive governments at the Centre and national parties had failed to prioritise farm sector development while at the helm of affairs. Failure of the two UPA Governments to implement M.S. Swaminathan recommendations and non-implementation of 2014 election promises by the BJP-led NDA Government clearly indicate that the national parties are not keen to resolve farmers’ problems, he observed.
He stated that Telangana had initiated a unique agriculture development model leading to huge production and has increased land value. However, the achievements of Telangana farmers are hampered due to constraints in marketing and exports due to restrictions by the Centre. It has led to realisation that the State Governments are to be delegated with powers for export of farm produce and overall development of agriculture.
The Lok Sabha elections due in 2024 are an opportunity for farmers to pursue changes and a non-BJP alliance of national and regional parties could be persuaded to adopt agriculture-centric development as its common manifesto, he suggested and Telangana model could be tweaked and enlarged for adoption.