The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala has passed a new bill to constitute a farmers’ welfare board in the state—first of its kind in the country.
The Farmers Welfare Board Bill, 2018 was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on November 21 along with the select committee report and the Assembly passed it with amendments. As per the Act, all the farmers with a minimum of five cents of land to a maximum of 15 acres of own land or leased land will be entitled for pension after they cross the age of 60 years. Plantation farmers—rubber, coffee, tea, cardamom—who have seven and half acres of land will also be entitled for the benefits of the scheme.
All farmers can register under the board and each farmer has to make a contribution of at least Rs 100. The government will also contribute its share, up to Rs 250. The farmers who have made contributions for at least five years will get pension when they turn 60.
A special committee is scheduled to form to implement the recommendations of the Act. Once it is formed, the maximum pension amount will be clear, said VS Sunil Kumar, the minister of agriculture. The minister also said that the board will start functioning within six months.
“We are trying to give a comprehensive support package to the farmers in the state. Apart from the traditional farmers, plantations and farms will also be under this scheme. We have kept an annual income of Rs 5 lakh as the maximum limit to be part of this scheme. Now that the Bill has been passed, we hope to set up the board between three to six months,” said VS Sunil Kumar.
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Vegetable farmers, nursery farmers, and farmers who are into gardening and cultivation of medicinal plants and fruits along with farmers involved in breeding fish, ornamental fish, honey bee, poultry, dairy, duck, goat, rabbit and pig are also entitled to get the benefits under the new board. Other condition is that the farmers must have been dependent on farming for at least three years.
The farmers older than 18 years can register under the board; however, they should not be part of any other welfare fund projects. Those who are already enrolled under the Kisan Abhiyan project can move to the new scheme as well.
Other than the pension, benefits include aid for those who are suffering from chronic illnesses; aid for the members’ or their children’s education and marriage; and compensation for the member and their family if met with accident, wildlife attack, poisoning or death.
There is also a provision to get a lump sum amount once for the farmers who have made contribution for 25 years.
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