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Budget 2019-20: Government Proposes 10,000 FPOs to Help Marginal Cultivators; ‘Zero Budget Farming’ to Tackle Agrarian Crisis

KJ Staff
KJ Staff

Breaking the stereotyped “briefcase tradition” to a “red cloth” wrapped box, India’s first full-fledged woman Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the first budget of the Modi 2.0 Government at the Parliament on 5th July 2019. It seems the budget has more to offer for “Gaon, Kisan, and Garib”. She outlined a road map for the growth of rural development, poor and farmers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the budget for a New India has a ‘roadmap’ to transform the agriculture sector of the country, this budget is one of hope.”  

The budget also proposed to increase budget allocation for the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare by over 78% to Rs.1.39 trillion for the current fiscal, out of which Rs. 75,000 crore will be for the flagship scheme PM-Kisan. 

Let’s check out what “Gaon, Kisan and Garib” can expect from the budget 2019-20. 

Zero budget farming- 

“Ease of doing business and ease of living should apply to farmers too. We should go back to basics on one count —zero budget farming. We need to replicate this model which can help in doubling farmer incomes," Sitharaman said.

Finance minister stressed the need for ‘zero budget farming’ to tackle the ongoing agrarian distress. Zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) is a series of farming practices to ensure that farmers do not fall into a debt trap to grow their crops. 

According to the report, the small farmer finds agriculture inputs to be expensive and inaccessible, which let them secure credit to secure these inputs. The unpredictable weather and crop prices fluctuation makes repayment of the credit more difficult for the farmers.  Studies suggest that the main reason for farmer suicides is the inability to repay debts.   

Focusing more on natural agricultural inputs with zero chemicals, ZBNF offers farmers to lead their occupation without getting trapped in the curse of debt. 

This movement first took place in Karnataka under the initiative of Subhash Palekar with the help of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS).  It mobilized the farmers to attend camps where Palekar taught them ZBNF techniques and spoke about successful case studies. 

According to the report, close to 1 lakh farmers could be doing ZBNF farming, while volunteers who carry out these training programs say that the number could run into millions across the country.

Proposes 10,000 farmer producer organizations to help marginal cultivators

The government is planning to create 10,000 farmer producer organizations (FPOs) in the coming five years. The expectation is to help small and marginal cultivators team to get lower rates for inputs and sell produce at higher rates. Indian farms are highly fragmented in its style, making it difficult for farmers to adopt modern practices and technology. The small and marginal landholding area increased to 47.4% in 2015-16 from 38.9% in 2000-01, while that of large holdings decreased to 20% from 37.2% in the same period.  

H K Bhanwala, chairman of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) said, “The budget proposal to set up 10,000 FPOs is a path-breaking step to ensure economies of scale for farmers”. Yogesh Thorat, managing director, Mah-FPC, a consortium of FPOs from Maharashtra, said, “It is a good move that the FPOs have found space in the budget. It will help create an institutional structure to aggregate the farmers. We now hope the government will also try to create an entire ecosystem for the development of the FPOs.”

Till date 3,500 FPOs have been registered and another 3,000 are under promotion, said Pravesh Sharma, former head of the Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium.  

Clean India, ODF free India 

Total 5.6 lakh villages have been declared as Open defecation free (ODF) till date. FM promised that India will be declared as an ODF free country by 2019 and every rural family will have a toilet. 

“Har Ghar ko Jal’ 

Every rural house will be able to avail water supply facility by 2024. FM assured that drinking water will be supplied to every rural house. 

Development of rural roads  

In the coming years, total 80,250 Core will be invested to build 1, 25,000 km roads. 

Ujjwala Yojana & LPG Connection to every house- 

Every family will get LPG connection through Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana.   “By 2022, the 75th year of independence, I would like to assure the nation that every single rural family—except those who are unwilling to take the connection—will have electricity and a clean cooking facility," Sitharaman said. 

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