Farmers’ Union Terms Tamil Nadu Agri Budget ‘Disappointing’
Chennai: Tamil Nadu Agriculture Minister M R K Panneerselvam presented the Agriculture Budget 2023-24 in the Assembly on March 21. This is the third agriculture budget of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government.
Tamil Nadu Vivasaya Sangam released a press statement signed by the general secretary of the union which said that despite a few new announcements “it has been a disappointing budget for the farmers.”
“This year’s budget does not fulfil the expectations of farmers and it has not incorporated the suggestions given in the consultation meetings,” said Samy Natarajan, general secretary of TN Vivasaya Sangam.
The farmers union condemned the budget saying it did not take into account the increase in the cost of production due to inflation.
The state announced the same incentives as last year: Rs.195 per tonne for sugarcane, Rs.100 per quintal of paddy and Rs 75 per quintal of thin variety of paddy.
“DMK’s election promise said sugarcane would be procured for Rs 4,000 per tonne and paddy for Rs 2,500 per quintal. It is very disappointing there is no mention of these in the budget,” said Natarajan.
The Vivasaya Sangam welcomed a few of the announcements in the state Agriculture Budget.
“We appreciate the importance given to the production, procurement and sale of millets, and converting them into value-added products,” said Samy Natarajan in his statement.
Millets, including bajra and ragi, will be sold through the public distribution system.
The announcement of a 20% additional subsidy to small-scale farmers belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was also appreciated by the union.
In a measure to encourage organic farming Nammalwar Award was announced to farmers engaging and encouraging such farming, which was also applauded by the union.
THE STATE SHOULD PROVIDE CROP INSURANCE
The Tamil Nadu government has earmarked Rs 2,337 crore for crop insurance in the coming year.
“The crop insurance scheme is meant to provide protection to farmers when crops are affected by natural hazards. The past experience is that the affected farmers do not get the insurance amount. Therefore, Vivasaya Sangam insisted that the Tamil Nadu government to start a crop insurance company. However, the Tamil Nadu government did not take this into account,” said Samy Natarajan.
The union observed that under the BJP regime, private companies had been allowed to participate in the crop insurance scheme, and they have turned it into a profit-making affair.
The union also insisted that although Rs 14,000 crore is earmarked for crop loans through cooperative banks, it should prioritise small and medium farmers.
NO PROVISION FOR PURCHASE AND STORAGE
Vivasaya Sangam noted that no mention is made about setting up warehouses to store the procured paddy and cold storages to store rotting fruits and vegetables.
Natarajan said, “Procured agricultural produce will continue to perish.
“The Kerala State Government is procuring 16 types of fruits and vegetables at a minimum support price and selling them at a fair price. No such announcements were made providing a guarantee of purchase and price,” read the statement.
The farmers’ union further noted, “Only Rs 90 crore was allocated for dredging work, which is like cornmeal for an elephant's hunger!”
It also said, “it is a big disappointment that no funds were allocated for the speedy completion of the Cauvery-Vaigai-Gundar river link project and no announcement of new irrigation projects.”
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