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Convert Input Subsidy To Direct Income Support For Farmers: Anil Ghanwat

Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sangathna, talks to BW Businessworld’s Prabodh Krishna about his expectations from the Union Budget FY 20-21. Excerpts:

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Shetkari Sangathna (Joshi), the apex farmers body in Maharashtra, Karnataka and other neighbouring states, has been in the limelight for its pro-farmers measures and agrarian issues. Anil Ghanwat, President, Shetkari Sangathna, talks to BW Businessworld’s Prabodh Krishna about his expectations from the Union Budget FY 20-21. Excerpts:

What are your expectations from the Union Budget FY 20-21?

First, the government has to recognise that the agricultural growth has been higher than the industrial growth this financial year. Yet, the deep crisis in the agriculture sector has meant that the farmers have not received the value for their production. If the government acknowledges the nature of the problem, then how can we expect policy reforms.  

Do you fear that the budget allocations might not fit to make reforms on ground?

Yes, it is felt that the government will allocate more for NREGA, MSP, etc. rather than for the real reforms. The kind of submissions made by different farmers’ groups to the government last month in preparation for the Budget shows that none of them are foreseeing meaningful reforms, but only band-aids.

What about Shetkari Sangathna’s agitation for genetically modified (GM) crops?

Approve Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) brinjal and GM mustard. Since all regulatory steps have been completed. Allow trails and research in genetically modified seeds. 

You spoke about unnecessary intervention by the government on the price rise episodes and other measures? What can we expect this year? 

Stop interfering with import and export of agriculture products. So that the farmers and traders have a stable trading environment, and fixed and predictable pricing.

What will be your take for input credit reimbursement on agriculture products?

It is clear and simple. Every agriculture input for which the GST is charged, which a farmer buys, should be refunded to the farmer.

MSP has been in regular spotlight. What are you expecting this year?

I strongly believe that policymakers should phaseout MSP over a two-year period, instead of price support, provide direct income support. MSP is distorting grain market and the government has to buy unnecessary stock with sparse infrastructure to hold it.

How about your quick view on various subsidies in different form?

This should be phasing out agriculture input subsidies, and liberalise manufacture and trade in such inputs. Convert input subsidy to direct income support for farmers.

Anything specific about the ‘agriculture is a state subject’ issue?

It is a complicated matter but I have view points, like Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) and Land that are state subjects, so Central government can’t directly intervene. But failure of eNAM to connect with real farmers has to be recognised, in order to advocate dismantling of APMC.

There has been a lot of talk about zero budget farming. What is your quick take on it?

It can be put straightforward. The government should allot funds for storage and processing of agricultural produce than promoting zero budget farming. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Anil Ghanwat

The author is President, Shetkari Sangathna

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