A task force on farmers distress set up by Maharashtra government has suggested that farmers be given a grant equivalent to 100 wages from MGNREGA and a price stabilisation fund be instituted to protect them from distress sale of their produce.
Prominent farm activist Kishor Tiwari, chief of the Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swawalambi Mission, said due to increased labour cost, very few works of digging wells in fields have been completed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).
“Farm labour costs are ever increasing and make a big chunk of input costs for cultivation, and more so with low level of mechanisation in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.
When MGNREGA funds are anyway used to pay for labour in digging of farm wells, why not for other farm labour as well?” Tiwari asked.
“It would be a big help if 100 days of wages under MGNREGA are deposited in farmers’ bank accounts so that the cost of labour for a season are met,” he said.
The Swawalambi Mission was the task force constituted by the state government a couple of months back to address the issue of farmers’ suicide and agriculture crisis.
The mission made the recommendations during a recent review meeting called by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Tiwari also recommended that banks should consider a five-year term for farm loans after assessing borrowers’ land costs and other securities. This would give farmers more financial freedom.
In another recommendation, he suggested speedy implementation of price stabilisation funds to protect farmers from distress sale of their produce in the event of a price fluctuation.
The mission is also undertaking the task of training gram sevaks, police Patils and health workers so that they provide timely assistance to farmers on various aspects and thus, reduce their stress levels.