Agriculture is the soul of the Indian economy in many ways, as it powers Indians on a daily basis through its multifarious outputs. It also witnesses a large number of Indians practicing this occupation, who struggle on a daily basis against various kinds of factors just to perform their daily duties. Knowing fully well the struggles of the farming community, the Narendra Modi government has since 2014 been exhaustively engaged in making things easier for farmers through a series of measures by working to reduce the challenges faced by them on critical points.
Assured Procurement at Fair Prices
With a view to sustain and promote agricultural activities, the government of India had in 2018 proposed a new formula for the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) Kharif and Rabi crops. As per this formula, the MSP was to be fixed at a level of 1.5 times of the cost of production. In the second term, the Modi government approved MSP hikes using this formula for the Kharif season of 2019 and the upcoming Rabi season, and assuring farmers that promises are not meant to be broken for this government. With the renewed prices, interests of the farmers have been kept at the fore to ensure that farmers do not lose out to predatory tactics and cartelization of buyers at any time, and healthy competition is maintained in the market.
Through increased procurement, farmers have been assured that their due will not be denied to them. By assuring optimum MSPs and ensuring that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) is available as a ready buyer, the base to secure farmers’ interests have always been maintained.
Farmer Produce Organizations (FPOs) and Digital Procurement via e-NAM to Secure Better Value
“The farmers have always been producers, but with the help of FPOs, they can now trade in farm produce. They will sow crop and also act as skillful traders to get the right prices.”
PM Narendra Modi
A large number of farmers are small scale in India, and individually they do not possess the necessary bargaining power. Being fully cognizant of the fact that organizing farmers together help them gain greater bargaining power and augment their agricultural incomes, Prime Minister Modi launched 10,000 Farmers Producer Organizations (FPO) all over the country in February 2020 with a budgetary outlay of Rs.6,865 crore. FPO Members in turn also manage their activities together in the organization to get better access to technology, input, finance and market for faster enhancement of their income.
Markets are also being digitized to enable the farmers to sell their produce across the country at the rates of their choice. FPOs were a logical extension to the step of launching the e-NAM in 2016, which completed the milestone of four years in April this year. The total number of mandis registered on the National Agriculture Market portal (e-NAM) has reached 1000, with around 1.66 crore farmers and 1.28 Lakh traders registered on it across 16 States and 8 Union Territories. Further, in the times of COVID, e-NAM introduced new features that has proven to be of great help to farmers.
e-NAM now enables Warehouse Based Trading module by integrating eNAM with e-NWR, which enables farmers to trade without even visting the mandi. Further, the FPO module gives power to the FPOs to deal in uploading of produce, bidding and payment from their Collection Centers directly while also being able to supply other produce like vegetables in nearby cities and towns. All problems arising out of movement of goods and its trading are resolved on real time basis. The “Kisan Rath” App introduced by the Ministry has also proven to be of great assistance, as it facilitates farmers in identifying right mode of transportation for movement of farm produce. As a module of uberization of logistic aggregator more than 11.37 lakh trucks and 2.3 lakh transporters have been brought under it already.
PM Kisan and Kisan Mandhan Yojana – Securing a Dignified Life for Farmers
India’s small farmers for long actually have not had any access to any kinds of social security or income augmentation to tide over money issues for buying basics like seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. The efforts of the government in this regard are certainly unparalleled, when one considers the success of the PM-Kisan Yojana and the launch of the Kisan Maandhan Yojana.
Through the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, an annual transfer of Rs. 6,000 is done to farmers, and has been done so consistently, as data reveals. With 9.5 crore farmers registered under the scheme, the scheme is also coming to the aid of farmers during the lockdown. Money has reached the farmers without fail through the digital means, thus ensuring that corruption cannot siphon away the right of the farmer.
Ensuring dignity in old age is the PM Kisan Maandhan Yojana, which essentially saw an old age pension scheme being launched for the farmers in their old age in August 2019. Through this scheme, farmers would receive a minimum assured pension of Rs.3,000/month after attaining the age of 60 years, thus creating a social safety net for the farmers of India and thanking them with a small token of gratitude. Should the farmer die, the spouse of the farmer shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension as family pension, thus also securing the family interests. What is heartening to note is that both men and women have been registered under the scheme, and farmers of the age group 26-35 dominate the scheme, underscoring their realization of the scheme’s importance.
With an overarching network now in place, India’s farmers are better placed than ever to pursue farming without worrying about getting the right price or wondering about their old age. The journey has just begun, and many more milestones are to be crossed. However, a promising start has finally been made to address the issues of farmers in a comprehensive and integrated manner by addressing issues end-to-end and closing channels for leakages.