Bharatiya Kisan Union, a major farmers group has demanded a Rs. 1.5-lakh crore relief package for growers affected by COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. They have also asked for a four-fold increase in the PM-Kisan scheme.
BKU national spokesperson Chaudhary Rakesh Tikait, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week said that farmers with perishable produce have been badly hit due to lack of transport and labour during lockdown.
He wrote that “The nationwide lockdown caused lack of transportation that led farmers growing vegetable and fruits crops to let their crops rot in the field. At the same time, fair prices of produce were not available in the markets because of lack of demand. As a result, growers had no option but to throw away and destroy their crops”.
Tikait told that fruit and vegetable farmers faced 80 percent crop loss, while many flower farmers lost their whole crop. Although milk is counted as major essential goods and the Centre has been making efforts to restore and protect the dairy supply chain, farmers have faced 50 percent losses.
He also wrote that “Farmers are in a dilemma as the Centre is not taking the necessary steps to solve their problems”. The leader also demanded a package to help compensate for the losses faced by floriculture, horticulture, bee keepers, poultry and dairy farmers & fisheries sector.
Tikait said for other crops like wheat, gram, cotton and mustard, the government must ensure full procurement and provide a bonus of Rs. 200 per quintal for wheat farmers facing bad weather.
He added that Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme (PM Kisan) needs to be ramped up to provide Rs. 24,000 / year to farmers, with the existing Rs. 6,000 in a year. The BKU spokesperson also asked for a loan waiver for horticulture as well as floriculture farmers along with one-year exemption on paying interest on crop loans for all the cultivators.
The letter said, “Even in this crisis, farmers are working in the field, keeping their life in hands. And if farmers had not secured food security then there would have been more starvation deaths than death because of COVID-19.”
SOURCE: Krishi Jagran