To attract the farmers to vote for BJP and to counter the promise of debt waiver to the farmers by Congress President Rahul Gandhi, the Central BJP government recently announced the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PMKSNY). Under this scheme, all the eligible farmers, having land holding up to 2 hectares, will be given a benefit of Rs 6,000 in a year which will be payable in three installments of Rs 2,000 each. According to the plan, the first installment will be payable by considering December 1, 2018, as a base. The record of the land of the farmers of small and marginal sections having up to two hectares of land will be prepared on the basis of February 1, 2019. After this date, if any change in land records is made, then the farmer will not get the benefit of this scheme for the next five years. The benefits of this scheme will be given only to those farmers who are cultivating crop on their own land. If any farmer’s land is found in different villages or revenue records, then it would be considered to extend the benefit of the scheme by doing pooling.
The Government of India has created a PM Kisan Portal for this scheme in which the district wise data of the eligible farmers would be uploaded as per guidelines and in a time bound manner. After receiving the application of eligible farmers on the portal, the amount will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of beneficiaries after verification. The Government of India has made a provision of Rs 75,000 crore for this scheme, under which about 12 crore farmers of the country will be covered.
Now we are to see who the farmer is?
While circulating Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008, to the Chairman/Managing Directors of All Scheduled Commercial Banks (including Local Area Banks) during the Congress party regime, RBI through its letter No. RBI / 2007-2008/ 330- RPCD.No.PLFS.BC.72 /05.04.02/2007-08 dated May 23, 2008, under the Central Government’s Union Budget – 2008-09 – Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008, defines the farmers as under:
3.5. ‘Marginal Farmer’ means a farmer cultivating (as owner or tenant or sharecropper) agricultural land up to 1 hectare (2.5 acres).
3.6. ‘Small Farmer’ means a farmer cultivating (as owner or tenant or sharecropper) agricultural land of more than 1 hectare and up to 2 hectares (5 acres).
3.7. ‘Other Farmer’ means a farmer cultivating (as owner or tenant or sharecropper) agricultural land of more than 2 hectares (more than 5 acres).
If we conclude the definition of a farmer given by RBI in the light of RBI’s above-stated letter, we deduce that “a farmer means a person cultivating agriculture land as owner or tenant or sharecropper.”
Now comes the question, “The benefits of this scheme will be given only to those farmers who are cultivating crop on their own land. Why is the central government not including the sharecroppers and tenant farmers while extending the benefits of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to help the farmers?”
As per the Pocket Book of Agricultural Statics 2015 released by GOI, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the total workforce engaged in agriculture, concluded on the basis of 2011 census figures, is 26.31 crore , out of which 11.88 crore are cultivators ( As per GOI present estimate about 12 crore farmers eligible under PMKSNY being the farmers who are cultivating crop on their own land) and the remaining 14.43 crore are those who work on someone other’s farmland as sharecropper or tenant farmer or agricultural labour.
When the RBI and the Central Government had been treating previously all the persons as farmers, who were cultivating (as owner or tenant or sharecropper) agricultural land, now why the present BJP government is discarding these categories of farmers from the list of beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana? Are they not farmers?
Amit Kumar, a graduate farmer from Haryana, states, “The tenant farmers or sharecroppers are the real farmers. They are the worst affected farmers in case of crop failure and have to expend more and get less. A sharecropper has to pay half the share of the produce to the landowner despite his full-time work on the field. The tenant farmer, who takes agriculture land on rent depending on the type of land and irrigation facilities available from the landowner, has to bear not only the rent to be paid in advance but also all the expenditures incurred on crop raising. Tenancy rent which varies from place to place is somewhat between Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 per acre in Bhiwani district for barani and canal irrigated land. In the case of crop failure, if the government or insurance company gives compensation or insurance claim, that goes directly to the bank account of the land owner and the tenant farmer gets nothing. Generally, no land owner shares the compensation or claim with the tenant, so the tenant farmer is the double loser; he neither gets crop nor compensation.”
-Jag Mohan Thaken
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