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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Bihar Election: Has the state's agricultural system completely failed

 

"We do farming all day long, earn all day and the AC people sit and eat. We are also the people, we are going to vote. We will see the work. It is not that if you vote, sit in your house and sit No development. 



Farmers in East Champaran are angry at the apathy of the Arvind governments.

Along with them, there is the same complaint of many other farmers that leaders repeatedly name farmers but do not do anything concrete.

Farmer Chandraprakash Pandey also says, "Sugarcane mills are closed, farmers are not getting paid and no representative is saying anything on this. Representatives are all out here."

The Rashtriya Janata Dal's resolution letter for the Bihar election has arrived and the seven-point agenda of the Janata Dal United too, but no one is showing the way to reach a permanent solution to the farmers' problem in Bihar.

Even today 70 percent of the people of Bihar are connected with agriculture. The contribution of agriculture in the state's GDP is about 18-19 percent. But agriculture's own growth rate has steadily decreased.

This growth rate was 5.4 per cent between 2005-2010, 3.7 per cent between 2010-14 and now is between 1-2 per cent. Floods and droughts are frequent in Bihar. North Bihar remains affected by floods and South Bihar due to drought in the same year.

Talk of farmers of Bihar ...

The seventh consecutive crop of farmers in North Bihar has been destroyed due to floods. So far, water has accumulated in this area and farmers are apprehensive about sowing the next crop. We met farmers in East Champaran who talked about mismanagement of floods and poor insurance schemes.

BJP leader Radha Mohan Singh also comes from this East Champaran. He is an MP of this Lok Sabha constituency since 2009. For five years he also held the post of Agriculture Minister. But all the farmers of Arejara and Banjariya blocks we talked to said in one voice that the Agriculture Minister could not do anything for them despite being on this land.

Recently, Radha Mohan Singh, while talking to the media about the new agricultural law, said that "92 thousand crores has gone directly to the farmers 'account through DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer). To the farmers' pockets in a year 72 thousand crores has arrived. "

Although this figure seems quite big, but as it reaches the farmers on the ground, it gets smaller.

Middlemen buy crops

In Bihar, despite all the natural woes, the production of food grains remains good. But the problem starts in the exercise of selling your production.

In the year 2008, the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies ie PACS were formed. Elections are held at the panchayat level for 12 members of PACS.

The government set up PACS with the objective that it will help farmers buy food grains, help them with crop insurance, provide fertilizer so that agriculture can be made a profitable business and farmers can get benefits.

There are currently 8,624 PACS committees in all panchayats in Bihar. Apart from this, there are trade board cooperation committees in 534 blocks. But the farmers say that they are not getting any benefit from this system.

Chandan Kumar, a research scholar at Delhi University, is doing his PhD on agriculture. They are residents of Rampurwa village in Areraj block. He told us that PACS does very little shopping from the farmers here and farmers are forced to sell their produce to middlemen.

Chandan explains, "Right now the government has fixed the MSP of paddy at Rs 1868 per quintal. But PACS will start buying in December. The paddy of the people is ready and in the meantime the middlemen will go away from the farmers by purchasing the produce at a small price. Has to sell because he still needs money and prepares for the rabi crop. "

PACS buys paddy from farmers, gives it to the rice mill, and from there the government purchases it and uses it in schemes like PDS.

Chandan also points to corruption spread in packs. He says that middlemen who buy rice for Rs 900-1000 per quintal, some packs of people buy it for Rs 1200 and sell it to the government at an MSP price. Earlier there was a ban on storing more than a limit, but the government has now removed this limit.

The 2019-20 report on the Bihar government's website states that not a single PACS committee has been audited out of 423 East Champaran. There was no audit in 2015-16 either.

Farmer Arvind Thakur says that he has recently sold Rs 1000 per quintal to paddy moneylender. Loss of 500 rupees on selling one quintal of paddy. Last year, there was a loss of Rs 375 on one quintal of wheat.

Professor BN Prasad of AN Sinha Institute says that PACS also does a limited purchase of food grains. The farmers have to sell the rest of the produce to the middlemen only. They buy only at one and a quarter of the price, so until the market chain is formed, how will the farmers benefit.

However, Chandan praises the Bihar government's public redress scheme that in most of the cases, the grievances of the people are redressed and such complaints regarding PACS are resolved.

Shivanand Dwivedi, a farmer who is harvesting paddy in his farm in Rampurwa village, says that he does not know much about the purchase of packs and MSP.

The farmers of Siswania village said the same thing, along with whose village the remaining 12 villages of the block are also facing floods at this time.

Huh. But if the crops are going to waste, are they not getting the support from the government and the amount of crop insurance?

Modi government vs Nitish Kumar on crop insurance

Although the Prime Minister has crop insurance scheme, but the Bihar government has also run its state crop insurance scheme. But to take advantage of this, it is mandatory for farmers to register online. Only registration done there is valid.

It also has a limit. Damage up to 20 per cent is Rs 7,500 per hectare. 15 thousand rupees for a maximum of two hectares. At the same time, you get 10 thousand rupees per hectare for more than 20 percent, and 20 thousand rupees for a maximum of two hectares.

Farmer and journalist Anand Prakash says that after the floods in Motihari, recently the Agriculture Minister of Bihar Government had come. He visited, held a press conference. Announced that we will give compensation. But not a single paper has been reached in the district, when the report has been made from here.

Mahendra Yadav of the Kosi Nav-Nirman Manch organization blames the complex process of accessing the benefits of insurance.

"The government gives input subsidy for crop damage. But for this, farmers have to provide their updated documents like land receipts, etc. The system is such that farmers have to bribe and get their receipts updated."

"Also, a certain amount of input subsidy is given. The cost is not the same."

However, the Chief Minister of Bihar had told in the assembly in March that his government has approved an agricultural subsidy of 60 thousand crores.

Adil Rana, a farmer of Siswania village, says that only those who have a Kisan Credit Card get the benefit of the center's crop insurance. Also, people are not aware about crop insurance till now and PACS is also not making them aware.

Kisan Credit Card (KCC) is a central government scheme under which farmers get loan from the bank at a very low interest rate.

Chandan says, "His farmer father has taken KCC since 2016 but every year the bank deducts the insurance money and the claim money does not come. The banks are involved in various formalities."

The NITI Aayog report for 2014-15 also states that the pace of implementing Kisan Credit Card in Bihar has been very slow. According to the report, the KCC in Bihar has not been successful so far because the land holding in Bihar is small, scattered and in the name of ancestors. Therefore, there are problems in making land ownership certificate ie LPC. Sometimes it also happens that the farmer who plots the field is not the owner of the farm. Therefore there is more problem in making LPC.

The Bihar government had told the Legislative Assembly in March this year that apart from the opening of 120,372 new KCC accounts in the state, 14.36 lakh old accounts were renewed. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told the House that 49.65 lakh new accounts were opened in the state in the last six years while 1.07 crore accounts were renewed.

However, Professor BN Prasad does a different analysis about the Kisan Credit Card.

"While living at Giri Institute in Lucknow, I did a big study on farmers' suicide in all the four regions of Uttar Pradesh. The Kisan Credit Card was the biggest cause of suicide."

"The farmers took the loan but ended up spending a large part of it in other works like building a house or getting a daughter married, etc. The farmers thought that this is the government's money and will be forgiven, but when they are tight Lagi, when the banks started attachment to their house, many farmers of Bundelkhand had committed suicide. KCC is not getting it, that is one thing, but there are also mistakes in its use. There is no policy to monitor it either. . "

'Modi ji has not yet drunk sugar mill tea'

Sugarcane is grown a lot in Bihar. But the farmers complain that the payments from the sugar mills have been delayed for the last 6-7 years.

Farmer Chandraprakash Pandey says, "The mills in Chakia, Lauria, Motihari are closed, but the ones running are also not paying in time. No representative here is raising voice to pay the sugarcane farmers."

Another farmer said that he had dropped sugarcane of one lakh rupees in the sugar mill. But they have not been paid for one year.

Adil Rana says that the Motihari mill near him has been closed for years. "When PM Narendra Modi came here in 2014, he assured that next time he will drink tea after mixing sugar from this sugar mill. But till date this mill has not started."

"We have to sell our sugar cane by going to Sugauli mill, 70-80 km. The benefit we should have, it costs a lot to carry sugarcane."

According to NITI Aayog's 2014-15 report, 125 million tonnes of sugarcane grows in Bihar. The state is expected to grow 250 million tonnes of sugarcane by 2022. But for this 28 sugar mills need to be run smoothly.

Flood Management?

The Ganges river divides the state into two parts, on its northern bank is North Bihar, which borders Nepal. Here rivers like Kosi, Gandak, Bagmati, Kamla come from Nepal and pass through South Bihar and join the Ganges. Due to excess water in the monsoon, the situation of floods, water logging occurs in North Bihar.

The biggest damage to Bihar is from the rivers coming from Nepal, Tibet.

The NITI Aayog report states that by 2014-15, the Bihar government has built an embankment of about 3,745 km as a temporary solution. But a permanent plow requires a Weeke-Kosi dam to be built on the Kosi river. We have to do the same on Bagmati and Kamla.

Professor BN Prasad says, "If North Bihar is to be saved from flooding, then it is very important to build a dam by negotiating with Nepal. This can make electricity there and will also help for irrigation. Bihar's economy can grow significantly. But nothing is happening in this direction. Due to the tension with China, relations with Nepal have also deteriorated. "

It is also said that from the flood waters, fertile land is prepared for the next crop.

Regarding this, Mahendra Yadav says that the flood, the water and soil of the rivers brought with him, it was beneficial. Floods would come and go. With that water, the fertility of the fields is made, the moisture in the ground is also good for Rabi sowing. Otherwise, many areas have to be irrigated before sowing.

"But the flood pattern that is present now has long-term water logging. It also delays sowing of the next crop. Water has accumulated in a large area of ​​East Champaran, Chapra, Gopalganj and has not found a way to get out "The water is blocked. This is not a natural flood, it will be called a man-made flood."

Government help is not enough

In 2016, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) reported that the average monthly income of farmers is Rs 6,426 and Rs 77,112 annually. This figure is between July 2012-June 2013.

NABARD also stated in its survey report for 2016-2017 that the average monthly income of farmers is Rs 8,931.

Before the Lok Sabha elections 2019, the central government had announced a grant of Rs 6000 to every farmer family under the Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi in its interim budget. Farmers who have land up to two hectares of land are given this annual amount in installments.

Farmers believe that they are getting money from Kisan Samman Nidhi but they call it inadequate.

Anand Prakash says that even though this is insufficient, the farmers' honor fund of the central government is still getting something for the farmers. Although some new provisions are being added to it now, it may cause problems.

Farmers do not know about the new agricultural law

After talking to the farmers in both these areas, it was also understood that the farmers did not know much about the new agricultural law, about which the farmers of Haryana-Punjab were protesting.

Chandan says, "The farmer movement does not happen in Bihar. Here 70 percent of the people are associated with agriculture but instead of the movement they migrate. The farmers of Punjab and Haryana or Tamil Nadu do not migrate in this way but the people here And go to the state and adjust. "

Professor BN Prasad also says, "After the farmer bill has just passed, then big companies will surround the farmers. It may be that the situation of indigo cultivation in the British Raj may be such that the companies will say According to production, otherwise they will not buy crops. "

Farmer and journalist Anand Prakash says that under the agricultural law, the government is saying that they can sell their produce anywhere, but how will the farmer take one acre of his produce to another state. In the agrarian economy here, most of the people are small farmers.

According to a report by NITI Aayog, 91 percent farmers are marginal farmers here, ie they have less than 1 hectare of land.

Big things will not work

Professor BN Prasad says, "The government is talking big on TV, but the ground reality is that Bihar's agriculture has been paralyzed."

"After Corona, the service sector is not growing, MSME is not growing, the cottage industry is over, the state whose growth rate of urbanization is 11 percent, then that state is based on rural economy. There are two-three sectors to increase the economy. Cottage industries, small and medium industries, agriculture will have to be developed. But there is no irrigation system, nor is there any support from the government. "

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