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Bharatiya Janata Party
25th & 26th June 2007
Parliament Annexe, New Delhi
Resolution on Agriculture
The Indian agriculture is facing multi-dimensional challenges both from within and outside. The agrarian crisis is spreading and the farmers’ indebtedness is rising thus posing a grave challenge to the nations’ food security. The farmers across the country are depressed and are angry, as they feel let down by the government. Unfortunately, the UPA government seems to be either unaware of the gravity of the situation or has no concern for the country’s food security and safety of the farmers. The government had declared the year 2006 as ‘Farmers Year’. But the farmers were the worst sufferers that year and the sufferings continue even now. The so-called package to stop farmers from committing suicides proved to be of no use.
The prices of most agricultural products have risen nominally or remained stagnant, while the prices of the inputs are spiraling day by day. Due to decline in farm incomes, rising cost of production, lack of reasonable timely credit, lack of remunerative prices and frequent crop failures on account of natural calamities, indebtedness is growing which is driving thousands of farmers to commit suicide. In spite of making the farmers problems big issue in the last elections, the UPA failed to make any meaningful assistance in securing returns for the farm produces, bank loans at cheaper rates, adequate timely credit, higher price for the produce, assured irrigation facility, availability of seed, pesticide and fertilizers at reasonable rates. The farmers were left to their fate and are given only lip service.
On one hand the industrial growth has picked up and on the other the agriculture growth is almost stagnant. Farmers’ per capita incomes rose by a measly 0.28% as compared to 4 % in other sectors. This is not an ideal situation for the country where more than 60 per cent of population is dependent on agriculture. It is also shocking to note that the draft of the Approach Paper for the Eleventh Plan, which has been prepared by the UPA government, fails to address the food and nutrition security, which is required urgently.
The country needs to take seriously the warning given by the eminent agriculture scientist Prof. MS Swaminathan that “the situation is deteriorating rapidly and the entire farming sector is heading for a total collapse, if no rapid remedial measures are taken.” It is also pertinent to note that both the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister are lamenting that farming has become increasingly unviable but are silent on correctives - a great disservice done to the nation by the UPA government.
The UPA government has practically abandoned the Farm Income Insurance Scheme and desired attention is not being paid to the Crop Insurance Scheme, which was initiated by the NDA government. It has also put the most popular and useful scheme of river linking in cold storage. Even important projects like rural godowns, cold storage chain, drip irrigation, horticulture that were all given top priority during the NDA government are now getting raw deal.
The BJP feels that there is urgent need for the government and the country to understand the seriousness of the situation and move forward to take urgent steps to set right the same. The BJP is also of the opinion that there is need to evolve a long-term strategy to achieve self-sufficiency in food production.
The budgetary provision for agriculture has come down significantly and 60 per cent of the population, which is dependant on agriculture, is getting less than 2 per cent of the total budget allocations.
The BJP strongly condemns the government’s inaction in not acting upon the constructive recommendations made by the National Farmer’s Commission, which has in fact covered various challenges on the agriculture front and the responses required.
There is urgent need for mustering of political will to address these challenges. Protecting the interest and welfare of the farmer whose contribution to the nation’s wealth is enormous and particularly in production of food grains, pulses, sugar cane etc., cannot be ignored.
There were surplus food stocks during the NDA regime. On account of wrong policies of the UPA including laxity in procurement and inadequate support price, the surplus has been converted in to shortages thus pushing the country to the corner of importing food grains, which in long term will adversely affect the interest of the farmers and destroy the basic domestic output.
The Government of India’s decision to import 50 lakh MT of food grains is ill conceived, ill timed and adversely affecting wheat producing farmers in the country. Wheat procurement is getting reduced every year during UPA government’s regime. It has come down from 206 lakh MT in 2002 to just 92 lakh MT in 2006. The farmers commission’s recommendation that India should have home-grown food security based on adequate, affordable, nutritious and balanced food for every Indian citizen. This is possible only when the farmers are able to increase production by increased agricultural productivity and remunerative prices for agriculture produce.
The BJP outlines the following areas that require urgent attention and course correction.
1. Implement Farmers Commission’s recommendations after study and consultations with the state governments and other stakeholders.
2. To undertake a long-term strategy to increase production of cereals, pulses, oil seeds and other food items.
3. Take up inter linking of rivers on top priority, motivate the states to interlink rivers within and in between the states.
4. The Farm Income Insurance Scheme should immediately be implemented as proposed by the NDA government.
5. Work towards increasing farm production by investing substantially in research for developing high yield seeds. To achieve a technological breakthrough to boost the yields of major food grains. Develop better infrastructure, research and extension service, which hold key to agricultural productivity and quality. The budget allocation for agriculture needs to be raised substantially.
6. Diversification of cropping pattern, increase in irrigation facilities, and value-addition through food processing and promotion of centralized agri-business activities.
7. Increase public investment in agriculture as a percentage of GDP has dropped from 3 per cent to around 1.7 per cent. Encourage more public investment in agricultural infrastructure to make crops more remunerative to farmers and make agriculture viable.
8. Setup Special Agriculture Economic Zones for better farm management and food security.
9. To make overall lands irrigational, the irrigation facilities are to be increased by increase in spending on irrigation projects. Creation of more irrigation potential, repairs to the system deficiencies, adapting change of cropping patterns according water availability is also required.
10. The Soil health card programme launched by the Gujarat government has to be undertaken as a national scheme where the agro universities have been involved to provide soil quality test to the farmers. The card helps the farmer provide the right nutrients to the soil, thus saving on wasteful expenditure.
11. The bank interest rates should be brought down to 4 per cent progressively and mandate 25 per cent of bank’s lending to agriculture.
12. We need take urgent measures in increasing gross capital formation in agriculture to 15% from its current level of 10% to achieve the growth target in the agriculture sector.
13. There is an urgent need to invest and promote scientific agriculture micro-irrigation.
14. Make strict policy of not to allocate fertile irrigated land for SEZs and to make it mandatory to include farmers as stakeholders in SEZs.
15. The decision to import food grains should be reviewed as it hurts the interest of the farmers and the domestic farmer should be given the price for his produce that is offered to the foreign agencies.
16. Horticulture, drip irrigation, food processing, dairy, poultry and fisheries be provided with enhanced incentives.
The BJP calls upon the government to change its mindset and convene a national level meeting of all Chief Ministers and political parties to make course correction in agriculture and underline the need for more public investment and pro-farmer policies.
The BJP expresses its concern and sorrow about the death of 350 people in the recent floods in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharastra and the damage caused to the property and crops in those areas. The BJP calls upon the government to announce ad-hoc assistance to affected states and depute central teams to assess the damage caused and plan for rehabilitation for the affected.
The BJP National Executive resolves to setup a committee to formulate a comprehensive Agriculture Policy for the protection of agriculture and welfare of the farmers in the long term. The committee will study the Farmers Commission’s recommendations and also study the land related issues and make recommendations to the Party.