Friday, May 27, 2016

Interview with Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh

 First two years of the NarendraModi government had to suffer two back-to-back drought that had its bearing on foodgrain production, but India could somehow manage to minimize the impact. The year 2015-16 was worse in terms of deficit rainfall. Still, the country is estimated to record slightly higher foodgrain production this crop year (July-June) as compared to 2014-15. Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh in an interview to Vishwa Mohan gave the credit to hard works put in collectively by all stakeholders including Centre, states and farmers. He emphasized on the roles of science in making India completely 'drought proof' in future and also enlisted the initiatives taken by his government to achieve this goal, provided states fully come on board.


Q. What all the Centre had done to provide relief to farmers in case of disaster\drought?

A. We have revised the norms for providing relief to farmers and extended record amount of financial assistance to states in the past two years. Relief is now being given in case of 33 per cent damage to the crop as against the earlier norm of 50 per cent damage or more. The compensation amount under various heads has also been increased by 50 per cent. It was a historical decision, taken last year at the behest of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Besides, the Centre had approved nearly Rs 9,017 crore as relief to the states affected by drought and hailstrom as against their demand of Rs 42,021 crore in 2014-15 and approved Rs 13,497 crore during 2015-16 crop year as against the demand of Rs 41,722 crore. In contrast, the UPA government had merely approved a relief of Rs 12,516 crore as against the demand of Rs 92,043 crore during four years from 2010-14.

Q. Have the disaster/drought-affected farmers actually got the relief amount? Does the Centre's role end after extending financial assistance to states?

A. Under the Constitution, agriculture is the state subject and it is the states responsibility to disburse the relief amount to affected farmers. We have, however, been in constant touch with district-level officers through dialogue, pushing them not only to disburse the amount to farmers quickly but also to implement the various schemes — Soil Health Cards, Prime Minister Agriculture Irrigation Plan and National Gokul Mission among others — at local level.

Many states have been implementing all these schemes quite sincerely. But, few others have not been that successful. It all depends on states' sensitivity towards farmers.

Q. Which are those states that have not properly implemented the central schemes?

A. If you travel from Delhi to Kolkata by train and look outside, you would easily find out that the states (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal) on the way have not implemented many of the central schemes that successfully as compared to others.

Q. In the existing system where "patwari" (local revenue officer) decides the actual beneficiaries, how would you ensure that only the real disaster-hit farmers get relief?

A. That's the reason why we have been promoting use of technology and drone-based survey to map the affected areas and identify the real affected farmers. The centre is also assisting the states to arm the local agriculture officers with smart phones and other scientific tools to make the farmers aware of all the central schemes and their rights over financial assistance. The direct benefit transfer (DBT), launched by us, will also ensure that the farmers can get quick relief.

Q. Many farmers have committed suicides in past two years. It seems the relief does not reach them. How can this unfortunate trend be stopped?

A. Many farmers took the extreme steps as they had to depend on loans from moneylenders. In case of crop failure, they lost everything. We don't want farmers to trap in such a situation and therefore out government has launched the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme. This is the biggest ever financial support by the central government in crop insurance. Farmers will have to pay lowest ever premium. It will provide them full financial security in case of crop failure. The scheme, which is to be implemented from the Kharif (summer crop) season this year, will cover and disburse relief to even those farmers who are unable to sow\transplant due to bad weather. Mobile and satellite technology will be used for the first time for quick and correct assessment of loss so that farmers can get their claims without any delay.

Source :  TOI

No comments:

Post a Comment