Bharatiya Janata Party
National Council Meeting
Late Suryabhan Vahadane Patil Parisar
Resolution on Agriculture
The Congress-led UPA Government is to be squarely blamed for the present sorry state of the country's agriculture sector. The Government does not have either an agricultural policy or a long-term strategy, neither has it taken any concrete step to reform the sector. Successive Congress party Governments which ruled the country for over 50 years since independence never accorded any priority to the agricultural sector. This has resulted in an unprecedented agricultural crisis in the country. Neither there has been any increase in private or public investment in the agricultural sector nor has the lot of the farmer improved. The hands that feed the nation are today forced to take their own lives in large numbers. This is not a natural calamity but government created crisis.
Last year the Government had announced with great aplomb loan waiver scheme aimed at giving the farmers freedom from debt. But this scheme did not provide any benefit to farmers owning more than five acres of land. Generally dry land farmers own land more than 5 acres. Millions of farmers who have honestly repaid even a single installment of their debt, were also denied this facility. A scheme which penalizes honest and credible farmers is bad in principle. This scheme has proved to be the worst gimmick played on the poor farmers of this country in post-independent India. A whopping eighty per cent of the farmers have not gained any benefit from this scheme. The BJP had demanded that a loan of upto Rs 50,000/- should be waived off in the case of each and every farmer. We firmly believe that all farmers are equal and there should be equal justice for all. The BJP had also demanded that the loan taken by farmers from money lenders should allowed to be taken over by banks. But the Congress Government did not pay any heed to all these demands.
The result of this betrayal is before all of us. The suicides continue unabated. In the Vidarbha region, where this session is taking place, more than 1200 farmers have committed suicide since April 2008, when the implementation of the scheme began. What's more, 92 farmers have lost their lives in the first 37 days of 2009 itself. This is the disastrous result of the anti farmer policies of the Congress regime. Suicides are taking place not only in Vidarbha, but also in Andhra Pradesh, Bundelkhand and other parts of the country. The situation has come to such a sorry state, that one farmer commits suicide in the country every eight hours. Can there be a greater evidence of the total failure of the scheme?
The Agriculture Commission, constituted by the NDA Government and headed by renowned scientist Dr M S Swaminathan, had cautioned that if urgent reforms were not carried out the agrarian crisis in the country would worsen. The agrarian crisis would lead to agrarian collapse. Thanks to short-sighted policies of the Congress Government, this prediction appears to be coming true. The BJP strongly condemns anti-farmer policies of the Congress-led UPA Government.
The BJP is of the firm belief that agriculture constitutes the backbone of Indian economy. India cannot become happy and prosperous till there is a change in the fortunes of the poor, the village and the farmers. Therefore, village, farmers and the poor should be the pivot of our economy.
Successive Congress Governments have not done justice to the farmers. They never provided remunerative prices for their produce. Even today, 60 per cent of the farmers do not get access to the institutional credit and are forced to take loans from money lenders. 85 per cent of the farmers do not get proper insurance cover. They lose their crops to natural calamities such as floods or famine or to some disease. BJP promises to provide justice to the farmers by extricating them from this miserable condition.
Yet another facet of the Congress betrayal has come to the fore. Farmers who benefited from the loan waiver are not being provided with new loans. It has been established that 60 per cent of such farmers are being kept at an arm's distance by banks and financial institutions. They have been left with no option but to knock at the doors of the money lenders. The Congress Government had rendered a body blow to rural economy.
The Minimum Support Price (MSP) was fixed with a view to provide a minimum value based on cost of production to the farmers. However, this concept has been given a silent burial as a result of the destructive economic policy being pursued by the Congress party. An MSP of Rs 3000/- per quintal was announced for cotton but neither the Cotton Federation of India nor NAFED came to procure it. Today's harsh truth is that the poor farmer is forced to sell his cotton for Rs 2400/- per quintal. The Government did not provide enough funds to procure cotton and other crops. BJP is of the view that procurement of crops below the MSP should be made a penal offence.
The worst sin committed by the Congress-led UPA Government is playing havoc with the nation's food security. The go downs which were filled to the brim during the NDA regime are lying empty due to the policies pursued by the Congress Government. Not only that the Congress-led Government did not provide remunerative prices to the farmers, but it also allowed private sector multinational companies to procure them directly from the farmers. By providing meager Rs 25-50 Rs extra, private companies have bought the farmers' produce in large quantity leaving little for the Government to distribute among the poor or even adequate enough to cater to the public distribution system. Thus, the private companies are indulging in hoarding, have hiked prices through commodity exchange and looted the people of the country. The era of inflation is a fatal outcome of this failed policy of the Congress party.
The country which used to export food grains after meeting its own requirement under the NDA rule, has now become a net food grains importing country. Despite a good wheat production, millions of tones of substandard wheat was imported into the country. Congress led UPA government paid Rs 800 per quintal to Indian farmers and offered Rs 1600 to American and Australian farmers.
BJP accords top most priority to food security. We have total faith in the Indian peasantry. With sheer hard work, it has the capacity to turn the country into a granary of food grain. The need of the hour is far sightedness, farmer-friendly policies and a commitment to food security. BJP believes that two policies are essential to ensure food security – a long-term focused agricultural policy aimed at enhancing production by encouraging productivity and providing remunerative prices to the farmers. BJP reiterates its commitment towards implementation of both these policies.
Unfortunately, the Congress-led Government fiddled with even the Minimum Support Price mechanism. The Central Government deliberately weakened the price fixation mechanism. The value of the land rental, the regularity of natural calamities, the uncertainty in agriculture and factors such as risk are not factored while formulating the Minimum Support Price. Instead of bringing about this much-needed reform, the Congress Government has changed it for the worse into a tool for perpetrating injustice on the farmers. The Government threw into the dustbin the recommendations of the Agricultural Prices Commission to increase the prices of crops including food grains. While government granted Rs 1080 per quintal for wheat, it refused to grant parity for paddy. Consequently, today the nation is faced with shortage of rice.
The BJP is of the firm view that the support price mechanism requires a complete overhaul and the recommendation of the Agricultural Commission for fixing the support price adding 50 per cent over the production cost, should be accepted.
Shortage and black marketing of fertilizers is the creation of Congress rule. There is a shortage of fertilizers across the country due to the lack of coordination between the Ministries of Food, Agriculture and Railways and the failure of the Government to correctly assess the demand-supply situation. In the absence of adequate supply of Government subsidized fertilizer, the prices of alternative fertilizer have skyrocketed. There has been mass bungling and discrimination in the distribution of fertilizers by the Central Government. Step motherly treatment has been meted out to states ruled by opposition parties. Never in the past have farmers been subjected to such injustice on political grounds. Country has witnessed shortages, agitations and firing due to delay in announcing the fertilizer policy.
The farmers also find themselves in dire straits over pesticides. In the absence of any Government control, pesticides are being sold at very high prices. Foreign companies are going for the kill. This is the only agriculture-related product on which the Centre has imposed 16 per cent excise duties. These pesticides are being marketed aggressively but there is no quality control mechanism. Spurious pesticides are available in plenty and lakhs of farmers are facing problems on account of this. The regulatory mechanism evolved during the tenure of the NDA Government has been disbanded by this Government.
The Congress Government has destroyed the nation's self-reliance in seed production. The development of new seeds is dependent on research, but the UPA Government did not allocate adequate funds for research. As a result, Agricultural Universities have been reduced to colleges distributing degrees. There is no research work being carried out in these institutions. Today, most of the seed corporations have become import agents. There is an increasing use of BT genes in newer crops. The Government has not taken into account its consequences in the long run. India, which was self-reliant in seed, has today become import dependent.
The Congress Government is wholly responsible for this seed-fertilizer-pesticide crisis which has resulted in an uncontrolled increase in production costs. The farmer is facing a twin crisis – on the one hand, he is not getting remunerative prices and on the other hand input costs are rising by leaps and bounds. His agricultural calculations have gone awry. This Government has failed to devise a mechanism to control input costs. BJP believes that agriculture can be profitable only when input costs do not increase disproportionate and remunerative prices are assured.
This Government made a lot of promises but all of them proved to be hollow. Whether it be the Rs 25,000 crore special package or the National Food Security Mission or National Agriculture Development Programme, they have proved non starters. All have been reduced to mere slogans. Nowhere do we see their implementation. The government has totally neglected cattle development programme and has no long term policy to achieve this. Country is loosing valuable cattle population every year. Even the fishery remains a non-priority item for the government. This year potato growing farmers are facing the music because of non remunerative prices prevailing in the market. They could not even pay the rents of the cold storage. Government remained mute spectator. The government could have played a pivotal role by granting good package to revamp ailing a agriculture sector in this era of economic slow down, but did nothing about it.
The Congress Government has even manipulated the exim policy for Agriculture sector. When the farmer starts getting good prices in the market, the Government starts exporting the item, when the farmer starts getting remunerative prices, the Government immediately stops imports, thereby closing all avenues for farmers to make some profit occasionally. The farmers have received a setback due to the uncertain export-import policies of the Government with regard to Basmati rice, sugar, soya and cotton.
This Government has entered into a agriculture research related agreement (Knowledge Initiative in Agriculture) with the United States. Till today, nobody in the Parliament or outside are aware of what this initiative is all about. Is it harmful to the nation's bio diversity or is it toeing the agenda of the multinational companies? All aspects of this Agreement should come before the nation.
The principal crime committed by this Government is putting into cold storage all the good initiatives taken by the NDA Government in the agricultural sector, whether it be the river inter-linking programme or the farm income guarantee insurance scheme. The Government lauded these programmes in its Budget speeches but did not implement them. The farmers' channel was shut down and the budget for agricultural research was scrapped. Government go downs were emptied and farmers were deprived of remunerative prices. The NDA Government had taken the historic decision to mix ethanol with petrol, which would have directly benefited the farmers. But the UPA Government decided not to implement the blending. The NDA Government had strongly advocated the case of the farmers in the WTO talks but today the nation is unaware of the negotiations carried out by Government. The development of agriculture is directly linked to public investment and especially in irrigation. The NDA Government had allocated fund for both these tasks in a big way but this Government changed its priorities. We had ensured cheaper loans for the farmers but now they have become dearer. The NDA Government had distributed crores of Kisan Credit Cards but in the absence of loans, they have been reduced to just cards. The NDA strengthened food security and this Government destroyed it.
The country will have elections soon. The UPA will be voted out of power and we do not wish to demand anything from an outgoing Government. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party wishes to declare a Charter of Rights for the farmers:-
Charter of Rights for the farmers:-
1. Loans of all farmers to be waived off under the principle of equality.
2. Agricultural loans to be provided at the rate of four per cent Interest.
3. Provision of subsidy directly to farmers
4. Adequate power supply for agriculture
5. Water for every field and work for every hand
6. Farm income guarantee insurance scheme for small farmers
7. Pension for old age farmers
8. Minimum Support Price for all crops
9. Minimum Support Price to be fixed after adding 50 per cent over production cost.
10. Implementation of the recommendations of the Agricultural Commission.