OPINION

Will the Rs. 6,000 farmer payout help?

The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme, announced in the Interim Budget, is the biggest scheme launched by the Government of India till date for providing structured support to small and marginal farmers.

For farmers’ welfare

Under the scheme, Rs. 6,000 per year will be provided to farmers holding cultivable land of up to two hectares. This has been done because the government is aware that the smaller the land holding, the greater the need for financial support.

This is a Central Sector Scheme and will be funded fully by the Government of India. The guidelines of the scheme have been issued. The government has developed a portal for managing the scheme (http://pmkisan.nic.in), which has gone live. The States have to upload the data of the beneficiaries on the portal. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare will transfer the benefit directly into the accounts of the beneficiaries. The amount will be credited into the account of the beneficiary within 48 hours of its release by the government.

In the 2018-19 Budget, the government announced that minimum support price (MSP) would be 1.5 times the cost of production for all the notified commodities. The Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan was approved by the Cabinet last year to ensure remunerative prices to the farmers. There have been various interventions to boost the production of pulses and oilseeds. Earlier, in 2016, the government launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana to provide insurance to farmers from all risks. Thus, in the broader framework of farmers’ welfare, it is easy to understand the importance of the PM-KISAN scheme.

Institutional credit

The government was concerned that although our farmers work very hard, and we have had record foodgrain production in the last three years, they were unable to get good prices for their produce, especially for non-MSP commodities, because of the adverse terms of trade, including depressed international prices.

What has gone unnoticed is that the government is also trying to bring all farmers into the fold of institutional credit. The target is to bring more than six crore farmers into the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) regime. Directions have been issued for this to the States and banks. They have been advised to issue KCCs within 15 days of application by the farmers. All the charges which were being levied by the banks, including documentation and inspection charges, up to Rs. 3 lakhs have been waived. Credit should go to the Indian Banks’ Association for taking such a farmer-friendly decision.

It is important to keep in mind that the average annual income of small and marginal farmers is well below the average income of all farmers. The benefit being given to small and marginal farmers through PM-KISAN will provide them assured supplemental income and also meet their emergent expenses, especially immediately after harvest. The scheme will be implemented with an estimated expenditure of Rs. 1 lakh crore till 2019-20, benefiting 12.50 crore small and marginal farmer families.

Besides being unique, the scheme is also sustainable and will increase the confidence of small and marginal farmers.