New Delhi, July 16 (ANI): Members in Lok Sabha on Tuesday raised problems related to agriculture including delay in procurement of produce, rise in the cost of inputs, late payment of crop insurance and adversities of weather and sought steps to increase the income of farmers.
Taking part in a debate on demands for grants of the ministries of Rural Development and Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the members said that about 80 crore people were linked to agriculture and expressed concern over farmer suicides.
While BJP members talked of the initiatives of the Modi government, the opposition accused the government of ignoring concerns of farmers.
Some opposition members also sought a reduction in GST rate on agricultural equipment and bringing diesel and petrol in its ambit.
There were also suggestions for greater integration of MGNREGA with farming through improved water bodies.
BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy said that Modi government had created conditions for people to turn "to villages from cities" as facilities such as round-the-clock electricity, good roads and internet were available in villages.
Rudy said he prefers meeting people in his village as the place gives him real comfort.
Congress member Uttam Kumar Reddy accused the government of paying "lip service" to the cause of farmers and said GST on fertilisers and agriculture machinery should either be reduced to zero or brought in the lowest slab.
Reddy, who initiated the debate, said the government has a goal of doubling farmers income by 2022 but it should state how much their income has risen in the past three years.
He said fertilisers, tractors and machines "should be exempted from GST or brought in the lowest slab".
He said the BJP-led government had promised in 2016 to double farmers' income by 2022. "Three years have passed. Has the government prepared any report in three years," he asked.
Reddy said that farmers income can be doubled only with a high agriculture growth rate. "Growth in agriculture income in the first four years of government is almost zero," he said.
The MP said the government has also not fully implemented its promise of giving MSP to farmers at 50 per cent above the input cost.
Reddy said that Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has been "a failure" and the progress in converting rural markets to agriculture markets has been slow.
He said nearly 30 farmers are committing suicide in India and alleged that the government's policies have pushed agriculture to an existential crisis.
Noting that 65 to 70 per cent of the population was directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture, he said there were 2.1 crore tenant farmers who had no access to bank and institutional finance and have to go to moneylenders.
"PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi is not applicable to them. Most of them do not go for crop insurance," he said.
DMK member S S Palanimanickam said economy cannot register a sustainable rate growth if the growth in agricultural sector is not at least four per cent every year. He said agriculture had registered a low rate of growth in most years of previous NDA government.
The member said 95 per cent of members of the House were connected with farming in one way or other.
Trinamool Congress member Pratima Mondal said that allocation for the Ministry of Rural Development had come down from 4.7 per cent in 2018-19 to 4.4 per cent in 2019-20. She accused the government of paying inadequate attention to agriculture.
YSR Congress member Pocha Brahmananda Reddy said there was a need for short and long-term measures to ease the agricultural crisis such as establishing more agriculture universities and starting diploma courses.
BJP member Ramapati Ram Tripathi said that provisions made in the budget for agriculture and rural development will certainly help in improving conditions of farmers.
BSP member Sangeeta Azad demanded bringing petrol and diesel in GST to reduce cost of production of farmers.
NCP's Amol Kolhe said that minimum support price should be determined locally as the cost of production differs regionally. (ANI)