Recently, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) has completed one year of extending its benefits to all the farmers of the country.
Status of Agriculture Sector during the COVID-19 Lockdown
- The survey conducted by the NCAER National Data Innovation Centre records a somewhat lower level of economic distress among farmers than among other groups.
- While farmers faced some logistical challenges in transporting and selling their produce, 97 per cent of them continued to harvest Rabi crops and prepared for the Kharif season.
- Nearly 75 per cent of the cultivators who usually hire labourers for agricultural activities continued to do so.
- The farmers were relatively immune to the economic impact of the lockdown as nearly 32 per cent of them experienced a large income loss which is much lower compared to the proportion among casual wage workers and business households.
- The proportion of households that had to borrow to meet their day-to-day consumption needs during the lockdown was relatively low for the farmers.
- While 7 per cent of farm households suffered from occasional unavailability of food during the lockdown, this figure was much higher for casual workers and business households.
Status of PM-KISAN during the Pandemic
- During the first two months of the nationwide lockdown i.e. April and May, nearly 21 per cent of 632 farm households received cash transfers through PM-KISAN.
- Among the recipients, around two-thirds reported receiving Rs 2,000 and about a fourth received Rs 4,000 during the same time period.
- When compared to non-recipients of PM-KISAN (including both farm and non-farm households), these households exhibited lower signs of economic distress.
- About 35 per cent of rural PM-KISAN recipients suffered income losses to a large extent in comparison to more than half of the non-recipients.
- A little more than a third of PM-KISAN recipients borrowed money during this period as against 48 per cent of non-recipients.
Significance of PM-KISAN
- Universal Basic Income type Scheme: It is the first universal basic income-type of scheme targeted towards landed farmers.
- Useful component under Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan: It is a useful vehicle to provide support to farmers during the lockdown and it was included in the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package.
- Direct Benefit Transfer to Farmers’ Account: The announcement of the benefit being transferred on-line to the Bank accounts of the beneficiary farmers is indeed a very good beginning for this massive scheme.
- Supplementing the financial needs of the farmers: The scheme is aimed at supplementing the financial needs of all the farmers in procuring various inputs to ensure proper crop yield.
Concerns associated with PM-KISAN
- Intended Farm Households are not covered: PM-KISAN is not reaching all farmer households as intended as most of the farmers in UP, Haryana and Rajasthan own land and should be receiving benefits but only 21 per cent of the cultivators interviewed reported receiving the benefit.
- PM-KISAN is not a pro-poor scheme: The scheme is not pro-poor since recipients of PM-KISAN seemed to be better off than the general rural population even before the lockdown.
- Non-availability of digitized land records: In many States, land records are not updated regularly and therefore, there could be instances where the cultivating farmers would have partitioned their holdings from other family members, but would not have the records-of-right to claim the benefit instantly.
- Overlapping of PM-KISAN with schemes of other states: Various state governments have launched schemes with similar benefits such as Rythu Bandu (Telangana), Annadatha Sukhibhava (Andhra Pradesh), KALIA Scheme (Odisha) and Bhavantar Bhugtaan Yojana (Madhya Pradesh).
Measures to be adopted for successful implementation of PM-KISAN
- Proactive role of Banks: Banks involved in primary sector lending or disbursement of crop loans, etc. needs to be sensitized properly on their critical role in implementation of PM-KISAN.
- Responsibility of the State Governments: The State Governments must convene special meetings of the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) with the Lead Banks positively driving the intention.
- Strengthening Information Technology backbone: The States with robust computerized land records data base and a good IT infrastructure will be in a better position to implement PM-KISAN.
- Promotion of Opening of Bank Accounts: The farmers not having bank accounts should be encouraged to open ‘no-frills’ accounts under the Jan-Dhan Yojana and linking Aadhaar data base will further strengthen the system.
- It envisages direct cash transfer, which will help households overcome credit constraints and manage risk in addition to increasing productive investment, increasing access to market and stimulating the local economy.
- PM-KISAN is a not a solution for all the agrarian problems faced by farmers such as ad-hoc export-import policies, lack of infrastructure and collusion in agricultural markets require the government to undertake structural reforms.
- Agriculture is a state subject under the 7th Schedule of the Constitutionwhich emphasize on responsibility of states to adopt measures for successful implementation of schemes related to agriculture.
Source: The Indian Express