March 14, 2019
Big push for agriculture and the rural economy
Over the last almost eight years of Trinamool Congress rule in Bangla, agriculture and hence, the rural economy has been given a big push.
The major achievements of recent times are as follows:
Production of cereals, oilseeds and pulses: Production increased to 178.47, 4.44 & 11.33 lakh metric tonnes (MT), respectively, in financial year (FY) 2017-18, against 172.77, 2.76 and 8.94 lakh MT, respectively, in FY 2016-17.
Farm mechanisation: In FY 2018-19, Rs 125.81 crore is being spent as subsidy to farmers for purchase of equipments, of which Rs 58.87 crore is being utilised for the establishment of 380 Custom Hiring Centres.
Bangla Fasal Bima Yojana: Due to non-cooperation of the Central Government, the Bangla Government has taken upon itself the responsibility of paying the entire premium under this crop insurance scheme, including the 20 per cent share of the Centre. In the kharif marketing season (KMS) 2018, 24 lakh farmers have been brought under the scheme.
Farmers’ Old Age Pension Scheme: From FY 2018-19 the amount of pension and the beneficiaries under this scheme have been enhanced from Rs 750 to Rs.1,000 per month and from 66,000 to 1 lakh per year, respectively.
Krishak Bandhu Scheme: Under this scheme, 72 lakh farmers and ‘bhagchasis’ owning agricultural land will be given every year an assured grant of Rs 5,000 for 1 acre of land, and a proportionate amount for plots smaller than 1 acre, in two instalments. For the latter group, the minimum grant will be Rs 2,000, in two instalments of Rs 1,000 each. Another part of the scheme entails the payment of Rs 2 lakh as one-time assistance to the family of a farmer in case of the farmer’s death.
Waiving off of tax: The mutation fee payable during transfer of agricultural land has been completely waived off. The tax on agricultural land – khajna tax – has also been waived off completely.
Dhaan Din, Cheque Nin: Under this scheme, farmers get immediate payment for their crops through the handing over of cheques against the selling of crops to the government at minimum support price (MSP), issued on the same day.
ATMs in villages: The government is launching 3,641 24-hour ATMs for the convenience of farmers, to be fully functional by March this year. Those farmers who have accounts associated with any cooperative bank or any cooperative society are eligible to use the facilities at the ATMs facilities via ATM cards, which would also be given by the government.
Sufal Bangla Scheme: There are 105 fair-price retail outlets operating under the name of Sufal Bangla. Out of these, 47 stores are managed by project management units (PMU) directly through an operator while the remaining 58 stores are managed by farmers producers’ companies (FPC) through their own working capital.
Subsidy for machineries: Rs 1,600 crore has been directly credited by the State Government to farmers’ accounts towards subsidy for machineries and other grants and schemes.
Disaster relief: To assist the farmers affected by natural calamities, e.g., flood, drought, hailstorm, etc., till 2018, subsidies and grants as compensation for crop damage totalling Rs 2,415 crore have been distributed directly through account payee cheques to 63 lakh families.
Farmer relief: To prevent distress sale and ensure remunerative prices for farm produce, the State Government has established 321 purchase centres at each Krishak Bazaar in most of the blocks and opened 2,000 camps
Farmers’ income: As a result of the pro-farmer policies of the Trinamool Congress Government, over the course of the last seven-and-a-half years, the net annual income of the farm families of the State has increased more than 3.2 times on an average, from Rs 91,000 in FY 2010-11 to Rs 2.9 lakh (excluding cost of cultivation as per NSDP) in FY 2017-18. The wages of agricultural labour have also doubled during this period.
Rewarding farmers: Acknowledging the contribution of the farmers, the chief minister has conferred the Kriti Krishak award to 4,000 farmers, the Krishak Ratna award to 2,003 farmers at the block level and the Krishak Samman award to 361 farmers at the State level.
Matir Katha: The ICT (information and communications technology)-based initiatives, Matir Katha web portal and its companion Matir Katha app, are providing quick facilities for solving field problems of farmers by SMS (short messaging service) in Bengali, through call centre communication and through other modules.
Krishi Sahayaks: For the many farmers who are not in a position to send email or call up, the government has designated 700 people as ‘krishi sahayaks’, or farmers’ assistants, across the 341 blocks of the State, and armed them with tabs. The sahayaks get in touch with farmers and upload their queries on the website immediately for the experts to answer, which answers are conveyed back to the farmers.