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It should have been a reminder to political parties and an opportunity to quickly re-orient their election campaign to address farmers’ issues when unseasonal rains and thundershowers brought in by western disturbances resulted in widespread damage to crops and cattle across several states of north and central India.

Both main contenders at national level, BJP and Congress, which made a host of promises to uplift farmers’ income and resolve farm crisis in their manifestos, however, remained stuck on to polemics on less consequential issues.

Over 50 people were killed in three states as rain and thunder storm caused by western disturbance hit parts of north India on Tuesday causing damage to property and crops, reports said.

For farmers, it’s not over yet. The IMD expects rain in parts of Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal & Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam & Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram & Tripura, Telangana, Rayalaseema, South Interior Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Thursday, according to a press release.

The unseasonal rain and hailstorms hit Gujarat’s mango growers hard. The unseasonal rains and storm also caused damage to property and crops in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana. Several cattle were also killed in rain-related incidents.

Rather than take it up as a policy issue in election campaign, the focus remained on blame game and issuing statements promising relief. Rajasthan Chief minister Ashok Gehlot said, “Farmers have suffered losses due to the rains and storm and it is a matter of concern. I asked the chief secretary yesterday (Tuesday) to get the survey of losses conducted immediately so that compensation could be given on time.”

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Expressing concern over the crop losses, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered urgent steps to ascertain the extent of the damage to crops so that due compensation could be awarded to the affected farmers at the earliest.

From Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office, the tweets, “PM @narendramodi has expressed grief at loss of lives due to unseasonal rains and storms in MP, Rajasthan, Manipur & various parts of the country.”

“An ex gratia of ₹2 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives due to unseasonal rain & storms in MP, Rajasthan, Manipur & various parts of the country has been approved from the PM’s National Relief Fund. ₹50,000 each for the injured has also been approved,” the PMO said.

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It is evident that their manifestos and the issues they have promised to address have already been forgotten and disappeared from the consciousness of leaders of both BJP and Congress.

BJP manifesto

Congress manifesto

Expanding PM-KISAN to all approx 14 crore farmers and not just to small and marginal growers Separate Budget for farmers
Short-term crop loans at zero interest rate on timely repayment To waive outstanding farm loans in other states as well doesn’t specify whether it would be a nationwide loan waiver
Pension scheme for small and marginal farmers Will decriminalise farm loan default
Rs 25 lakh crore investment to boost productivity To set up a National Commission on Agricultural Development & Planning to replace the CACP.
Enrollment to Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana made voluntary for loanee farmers also. Presently, it is compulsory Redesign the crop insurance scheme
Enable Creation of 10,000 FPOs To establish a Commission on Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers
‘Matsya Sampada Yojana’ with an allocation of Rs 10,000 crore for small and traditional fisherman Repeal APMC acts and also 150 days’ work under MGNREGA.

(as compiled by Business Standard)

Detailed Congress manifesto for farmers

Agriculture and Farmer Welfare

The Indian National Congress will continue to provide an impetus to agricultural growth, productivity and incomes. We will also stay focused on providing all possible support for our farmers, in particular women and small and marginal farmers.

The Indian National Congress has instituted schemes like the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana. As a result of these measures, the agriculture GDP growth went up from 2.6% (under the NDA) to 3.1% under UPA-I and further to 4% under UPA-II.

  1. The historic decision by the Congress led UPA government to allow Foreign Direct Investment in multibrand retail will transform the agrarian economy as it will create a beneficial value chain from farm-to-fork, creating rural infrastructure for sorting, grading, packing, cold storage facilities and ware housing. It will ensure that the farmer gets a much higher value for her or his produce.
  2. We will continue to nurture Public Private Partnerships for increasing investments in value-chains, cold storage facilities, grading and standardisation, quality certification and warehouses. This will greatly aid in increasing agriculture productivity and exports.
  3. We will add 1 crore hectares to irrigated area by completing the radical Water Reforms Agenda of the 12th Plan, which is based on Irrigation Management Transfer to Water Users Associations of farmers. This will ensure Gross Irrigated Area crosses 10 crore hectares in India.
  4. The current water use efficiency in irrigation is 40%. The Indian National Congress will actively support more efficient water use technologies including reuse and recycling of water. We will complete the historic aquifer-mapping and the groundwater management programme launched by UPA-II over the next five years, to ensure sustainable utilisation of groundwater to secure the livelihoods of lakhs of our farmers, particularly in regions where groundwater depletion has taken place.
  5. Small and marginal farmers own more than half the country’s total cattle and buffalo. However, only 12% of the total expenditure on agriculture is on livestock development. The Indian National Congress will place a special emphasis on livestock, fisheries, opening of veterinary schools and centres, fodder development through animal husbandry programmes and schemes like MGNREGA. MGNREGA will also be harnessed to support the construction of poultry shelters and water bodies for fisheries.
  6. The Indian National Congress will increase spending to ensure access and quality in agriculture education, including increasing the amount for and number of postmatric scholarships and research fellowships for veterinary students.
  7. The Indian National Congress will increase coverage of crop insurance schemes, particularly among the small and marginal farmers and non-loanee farmers. Settlement of claims on time, better crop yield estimation to determine premiums etc., and involvement of private sector will be other areas of focus.
  8. The Indian National Congress will allocate special funds for agricultural research to develop new technologies for disease management of crops and livestock, high-yielding-varieties of crops, etc.
  9. The Indian National Congress will promote resource conservation technologies and agriculture practices like integrated farming, organic farming and develop wastelands for dry land farming.
  10. We will cover 250 lakh hectares as watersheds, as part of the dramatically reformed Integrated Watershed Management Programme launched by UPA-II.
  11. There are lakhs of families in our coastal belts that depend on fishing for their livelihood. To enhance their welfare, a new Ministry of Fisheries will be established and all steps will be taken to further enhance their livelihood security.
  12. The Indian National Congress, honouring the commitment made in the 2009 Manifesto, enacted the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The Indian National Congress will ensure fast and fair implementation of the Act such that farmers, landowners and livelihood losers get adequate compensation for their acquired land.
  13. The Indian National Congress has more than doubled the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for farmers for wheat and paddy from 2004-05 to 2013-14. The MSP for other cereals increased three-fold. We will continue our endeavour to provide higher MSP to increase profitability of agriculture for our farmers.
  14. The Indian National Congress will provide concessional loans to groups/collectives of small and marginal farmers and women farmers upto Rs. 5 lakh to enable them to gain better access to inputs and services.
  15. The Indian National Congress will strive to lower interest rates for farmers to ensure they are able to access extension services and agriculture inputs like seeds, water, fertilizers etc.

Detailed BJP manifesto for farmers:

Doubling  Farmers’ Income

At the very beginning of our current term, Prime Minister Modi embarked on a mission to double farmers’ income. We will make all efforts to achieve this goal by 2022.

Welfare of Farmers

01. Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to all – We have launched Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana to ensure financial support to farmers owning land up to 2 hectares. We will further expand the coverage of the scheme to all the farmers in the country.

02. Pension for small and marginal farmers – We will launch a pension scheme for all small and marginal farmers in the country so as to ensure social security to them on reaching 60 years of age.

03. ₹25 lakh crore investment in Agri-rural sector – We are committed to making an investment of Rs.25 lakh crore to improve the productivity of the farm sector.

04. Interest-free Kisan Credit Card loans – We will provide short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs. 1 lakh at a 0% interest rate for 1-5 years on the condition of prompt repayment of the principal amount.

05. Voluntary enrolment in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – Our scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has ensured risk mitigation and provided insurance cover for all farmers. We will make enrolment of farmers under the scheme voluntary.

06. Empowering Farmers through Policies – We will work towards reducing all agricultural imports and institute a predictable export and import policy with a built-in mechanism for encouraging exports and discouraging imports.

07. Assurance of Quality Seeds – We will ensure timely availability of improved seeds of promising varieties at affordable rates with doorstep testing facilities.

Development of Agri-allied sectors

08. Oilseeds Mission – We will launch a new mission to achieve self-sufficiency in oil seeds and other agri- products.

09. Warehouse Network across the Country – We will build an efficient storage and transport mechanism for agriculture produce

Our Pradhan Mantri Krishi SAMPADA Yojana highlights our focus on warehousing as a means of increasing farmers’ income. To fufiher expand the warehousing infrastructure in the country, we will establish a National Warehousing Grid along National Highways to ensure necessary logistical linkages for warehousing of agricultural produce.

To enable the farmer to store the agri-produce near his village and sell at a remunerative price at an appropriate time, we will roll out a new Village Storage Scheme of agri-produce. We will provide farmers with loans at cheaper rates on the basis of storage receipt of the agri-produce.

10. To ensure greater promotion and increase profitability under organic farming, we will take the following steps :

We will promote chemical-free organic farming in an additional 20 lakh hectare of hilly, tribal and rainfed areas in the next 5 years.

We will launch a dedicated e-commerce portal to enhance the availability of organic produce to the doorsteps of consumers.

Goshalas in the country will be linked to the promotion of organic farming.

Promotion of organic eco-tourism in the vicinity of organic farming will also ensure additional income to the farmers.

11.National Bee-keeping and Honey Mission: We will launch a National Bee-keeping and Honey Mission to ensure additional returns to the farmers. We will double the honey production from the present 11,500 MT by developing infrastructural facilities and providing marketing support.

Expanding Irrigation in Mission Mode

12.We have completed work on the long-pending 31 irrigation projects under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana and work will soon be completed on the remaining 68 projects in phases up to December 2019. Continuing our euofis to developing irrigation, we will fufiher expand Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana to realize 100% irrigation potential of the country within a defined time-frame.

13. We will bring one crore hectares agricultural land under micro-irrigation, this would be supplemented with ‘fertigation’ to promote judicious use off fertilizers.

Cooperatives

14. We recognize the role of cooperatives and Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) can play in ensuring better market linkages and opportunities in the agricultural sector and we are committed to support and strengthen them.

15. We will enable the creation of 10,000 new Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) by 2022 to ensure economies of scale for farmers regarding access to inputs and markets.

16. To cater to the needs of big cities we will set up a mechanism of direct marketing of vegetables, fruits, dairy and fishery products through farmers’ cooperative organizations so as to ensure better price return to the farmers.

Convergence of Agriculture and Technology

17. We will create a mobile app based system for promoting the availability of agri-implements on rental/custom hiring basis.

18. We will extensively use technology to ensure a beLer knowledge of the market prices of various agro- products for the benefit of farmers.

19. We will enable development of young agri-scientists to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain technology, Big Data analytics etc. for more predictive and profitable precision agriculture.

20. We view solar energy as an additional source of income for farmers and will encourage solar farming on a massive scale so as to enable the ‘Annadaata’(food provider) to become ‘Urja-daata’ (energy provider).

21. Digitization of Land Records – On the lines of Aadhaar project, we will complete digitization of land records on a mission mode. We will implement second-generation land reforms to ensure title guarantee for the landholder and reduce land-related litigation. We will create a model law for conclusive titling (in consultation with states) promoting title guarantee and title insurance and work with States to implement this system.

Animal Husbandry

We have given utmost importance to the dairy sector and have established Kamdhenu Aayog for the conservation of indigenous species of cattle. We will establish a network of mobile veterinary dispensaries to provide doorstep service to farmers.

We will roll out a model programme for periodic health checkup of all cattle and other domestic animals at the district level with the help of veterinary experts from the public and private sector.

We will expand the coverage of immunization and eliminate Foot and Mouth Disease and Brucellosis. We will launch a National Feed and Fodder Mission to eliminate the shortage of fodder.

Fisheries – Blue Revolution

We will launch ‘Matsya Sampada Yojana’ with an allocation of Rs. 10,000 crores to ensure availability of storage and marketing tools and infrastructure like ice-boxes, cold storages, ice-plants etc. for small and traditional fishermen.

We will promote aquaculture through easy access to credit.

We will facilitate farming of sea-weed, pearl as well as ornamental fish to ensure a beLer return to the fishermen.

We will bring all fishermen under the ambit of all welfare programmes and social security schemes with expanded coverage for accident insurance.

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