India is an agricultural economy with around 70% of its population dependent on farming as their means of livelihood. Agriculture has always acted as the backbone of the nation. Although farmers contribute significantly to the economy, their condition over the years hasn’t improved, and has in fact deteriorated. Their poverty is well-known to all.
Improvements in the condition of the Indian farmers is the need of the hour. Training them in the utilisation of modern methods of farming is imperative. Understanding and advocating the same, Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, said that a state could not progress without the prosperity of its farmers. While presenting the state Budget 2015-16, Akhilesh Yadav declared it to be the “Kisan Varsh” of Uttar Pradesh, the “year of the farmer”. He announced several pro-farmer schemes, including free irrigation facilities, 1,000 one-stop shops of agricultural products under the one-stop shop scheme, ₹131 crores for certified seeds, ₹600 crores for farmers’ accident insurance and ₹778 crores under the National Agriculture Development Scheme.
Moreover, the state government has mandated that no coercive measures be used by banks to recover these loans. A provision of ₹1650 crore under the farmers’ loan waiver scheme has been announced to free about 8 lakh farmers from the burden of loans along with enhanced compensation for crop damage. The Chief Minister also said that, “Our government is totally focused on the development of villages and farmers. They are being trained in modern farm technology, and being provided a good market to get good prices for their produce”, while addressing a function organized to celebrate former Prime Minister Chaudhry Charan Singh’s 113th birthday in Lucknow.
Welcoming the announcement, Uttar Pradesh’s Planning Commission’s member and President of Kisan Jagriti Manch, Prof Sudhir Panwar, said that the “Kisan Year” will help farmers who have been badly hit by the adverse climatic conditions. Shiv Singh, Director General of Institutional Finance, Insurance and Externally Aided Projects, also said that the measures taken by the Uttar Pradesh government under CM Akhilesh Yadav will change the status of farmers and help bring prosperity.
Apart from this, “Peasant fares” are being held in districts, where farmers are taught about new technologies and scientific progress. Also, grants are being given to farmers for hybrid seeds, bio-fertilizers, chemicals etc. The “Bhumi Sena” scheme has been launched with its sole aim being the reclamation of barren lands. In the Bundelkhand region, farmers are being encouraged to collect rainwater for irrigation and are being provided with sprinkler sets and HDPE pipes at subsidized rates. Also, the Government has decided to cover villages with a population of 10,000+ under the piped water supply, akin to the urban areas of the state.
Sugarcane is the most important crop in Uttar Pradesh, and even though there has been a constant decline in the prices of sugar, the UP government has paid ₹1152 crores and has provided ₹442 crores as compensation to the societies.
Apart from that, Uttar Pradesh CM Akhilesh Yadav has directed regional rural banks in the state to disburse ₹20,000 crores to farmers holding Kisan Credit Cards in the form of loans. In an unprecedented move, he has also directed banks that no card holding Kisan can be denied a loan. The disbursement plan is to organize camps over 800 blocks with a target distribution of ₹10 crores, after which ₹1000 crores will be disbursed via camps in the district headquarters.
The Government has also launched a new insurance scheme, Samajwadi Bima Care Card. Due to this scheme, almost 3 crore farmers of Uttar Pradesh will benefit. This card will be granted to every farmer earning less than ₹75,000 per annum. The government will pay the premium, and the insurance companies will insure the farmers in the case of an accident. Along with the head of the family, upto 4 members of the family will also be covered.
The government has also taken initiatives to protect farmers in rough markets. Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav inaugurated the Kisan Bazar in Lucknow, Saifai and Mainpuri. In these bazars, farmers can acquire all sorts of farm products at cheaper rates and can also access an easy market to sell their produce. These bazars will also host stalls for handloom and handicraft products.
The State government has also granted an accidental insurance policy to 3 crore families of Uttar Pradesh under Mukhyamantri Kisan Bima Yojana. Under this scheme, the government will provide a refund worth ₹5 lakhs on the death of a family member of the insured family, and a grant worth ₹2.5 lakhs to handicapped persons. Approximately ₹897 crores worth of funds will be distributed in this scheme.
Thus, the Uttar Pradesh government has taken many steps under the Kisan Varsh programme, all of which will contribute towards ensuring that there is a paradigm change in the conditions of the farmers in the region. It is surely a step in the right direction, and the farmers can look forward to happier times ahead.