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Union Budget 2018: Farmers organisations threaten protests

Farmers organisations, led by Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav slammed the BJP-led Union governments last full fledged budget before Lok Sabha polls next year and announced a mass agitation against it from March.

Yadav, addressing reporters here, said Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, while proposing to increase the minimum support price (MSP) to 1.5 times the cost of crop production, had levied his own formula instead of going by the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report.

“While the Finance Minister has increased the MSP to 1.5 times, he has done so using his own formula and not according to the Swaminathan Commission recommendations. According to the government’s formula, it will not have to spend anything from its pockets,” he said.

Yadav added that a Budget’s relevance could not be gauged by the number of times the word “farmer” was invoked but by substantial allocations for schemes.

“The Economic Survey has said that in the last 4 years, the agricultural growth rate has been the lowest in the last 20-25 years. Farmers income has remained stagnant,” he added.

He said the allocation for the agriculture sector had seen a mere rise of 11 per cent, while overall budget outlay had increased by 13 per cent.

“This is at a time when the Chief Economic Advisor has warned that farmers’ income can decrease by 20-25 per cent due to climate change,” Yadav said.

Claiming that the government had duped farmers, Yadav said 180 farmers organisations from across the country would protest from March.

Also present were Swabhimani Shetkari Sangathana (SSS) representative Ravikant Tupkar and Lok Sangharsh Morcha leader Pratibha Shinde.

SSS representative Ravikant Tupkar said while increasing the MSP, the government did not make its formula clear and also did not specify how the production cost would be calculated.

“No policy for long term crops has been announced. How many farmers would be able to use credit cards at a time when nationalised banks don’t even give loans to farmers? Also, farmers have to sell their produce at less than the MSP because they do not have place to store grains. However, nothing was announced on this front,” he said.

Tupkar added that there was no substantial contingency fund in case of fall in market prices of crops.

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