BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY
National Executive MeetingMumbaiMay 24 – 25, 2012
Resolution on Agriculture
The Bharatiya Janata Party expresses its deep concern over the ongoing agrarian crisis in the country. Agriculture in India is not merely an economic activity but also a source of employment generation for nearly two third of our population.
The UPA Government’s inability to respond quickly and adequately against the challenges posed by the ongoing crisis has put livelihoods of our farmers in jeopardy. India needs an economic model based on equitable growth which doesn’t create huge income disparities.
We need a 'Farmer Centric Development Model' as the 'Western Model of Development' is not suitable in a country like ours. Western model is now fading away even in European and North American countries, where it originated. If India wants to become an economic powerhouse in the 21st century it has to come up with a new model for sustainable development.
Farmers Quitting Agriculture, Taking Crop Holidays
Indian farmers suffer because agriculture has become unprofitable. Their plight is pitiable as the input costs have gone up exponentially without a corresponding increase in MSP. This has forced the farmers to either quit farming or go on a crop holiday. National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data indicates a growing sentiment that 42 per cent farmers would quit agriculture if given an alternative.
This sentiment has manifested in its worst farm in large areas of Vidarbha (Maharashtra), Bundelkhand (Uttar Pradesh), Royalseema - Konaseema (Andhra Pradesh) and many other parts of the country. Perhaps for the first time ever in the history of independent India paddy farmers in Konaseema- Royalseema region had to go on a crop holiday which affected 1.25 lakh acres of farm lands.
The UPA Government failed to take any concrete action to help these paddy farmers.
Problem of Debt and Drought
Millions of farmers have come under severe pressure from mounting debt burden. In some cases distressed farmers took the extreme step of committing suicide. The Congress led UPA Government’s callous attitude towards large scale farmers' suicide reminds us of the insensitive British rule.
The Prime Minister and Congress President visited Vidarbha region in Maharashtra where thousands of farmers have committed suicide due to debt related issues. A relief package worth several hundred crore, announced in 2006, failed to deliver any relief to farmers even after six years. Congress party has been giving hollow promises to farmers all these years.
Vidarbha is once again facing a crisis of severe drought conditions these days. Parts of Bundelkhand, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and certain other areas of the country are also adversely impacted by drought. Bundelkhand is one of the poorest areas in the country where people in rural areas are struggling to get even their daily supply of drinking water due to drought.
The BJP demands that the government should not turn a blind eye to the problems facing the farmers and other living in rural areas. The Government should immediately announce a National Drought Relief Package for these drought affected regions. BJP is committed to ensure debt free farmers.
Reality of Farm Loan Disbursement
Although the UPA Government has proposed to increase its allocation to farm loans from Rs 4.75 lakh crore in 2011-12 to Rs. 5,75,000 crore in 2012-13 but as the recent data states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal where large number of farmers are poor and marginal will not get adequate share in it.
As per the official figures a big chunk of funds allocated for crop loans goes to cities like Delhi and Chandigarh where hardly any land is left for agriculture. Residents of these two cities alone received agricultural loans worth over Rs 32,400 crore in 2009-10 – more than UP, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand put together. These four states collectively received less than Rs 31,000 crore in 2009-10.
There is an urgent need to review the existing policy of farm loan disbursement and an investigation should be conducted to find out whether these farm loans were diverted to real estate sector or not.
The BJP demands that the Government should extend subsidized crop loans facility to purchase of farm equipment in addition to crop related inputs like seeds. This would help the farmers to reduce their labor costs which presently accounts for nearly 25% of total costs.
Government's Anti Subsidy Approach
The Government has recently proposed subsidy reduction on P&K fertilisers under its Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) policy regime. The Department of Fertiliser had recommended reduction in subsidy on Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K), which will be Rs.24 a kg each and Rs.21.8 a kg on phosphate (P) for 2012-13.
With this decision to reduce subsidy in P&K fertilizers the Government is expected to bring down the total subsidy bill by 20 per cent in the next fiscal. The subsidy bill of P&K fertilizers alone is seen to touch Rs.52,000 crore with the overall subsidy bill touching Rs.90,000 crore this fiscal.
The Government should not withdraw its subsidies given to agriculture sector in the name fiscal prudence. The BJP demands that the fertilizer subsidies should be directly paid to the farmers and a follow up action should be taken at the earliest. Subsidy on organic farming should be provided.
In the past eight years the government has waived taxes, including income tax reductions, for the business and industry which are roughly to the tune of Rs 22 lakh crore! These tax exemptions are presented under the head of 'revenue foregone' and accounted for in every annual budget but no such exemptions were extended to agriculture.
Shrinking Cultivable Land
According to government data, the cultivable land in India has reduced from 183.19 million hectares during 2003-04 to 182.39 million hectares during 2009-10. This number may not sound alarming at this point of time but it indicates a growing trend of shrinkage of total cultivable land in India.
Even in the US, the federal government has allocated US $ 750 million to farmers for the period 2008-13 under the Farm Bill 2008 to conserve and improve their grazing/farm lands. The idea is to ensure that farmers do not divert the land for non-agricultural purposes. Taking a cue from it the UPA Government should make efforts to protect India’s cultivable lands.
Farmer Friendly Land Acquisition Required
Displacing farmers and forcible acquisition of fertile land by the government has created widespread anger and outrage among the farmers' community. The BJP's National Executive welcomes the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development's suggestion that no fertile land should be acquired in the name of development.
A complete overhaul of the draconian Land Acquisition Act (1894) is long overdue. The revised Land acquisition bill continues to persist with ambiguous definitions of public purpose and supports land acquisition for private entities. It seems the UPA Government has failed to learn a lesson from the farmers' agitations of Singur and Nandigram (West Bengal) Tappal and Bhatta Parsaul (Uttar Pradesh) .
The BJP will debate and contest the anti-farmer provisions in the new Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill when it is tabled for discussion in Parliament.
Zero Tolerance Towards Hunger
The UPA Government has a long list of policy programmes designed to fight hunger, and the budgetary allocations for these schemes are hiked almost every year, yet millions of poor in India facing acute hunger. India is currently ranked 67th on Global Hunger Index which comprises of 88 poor nations. More than 5000 children die every day in India from malnourishment.
The BJP strongly advocates a policy of 'Zero Tolerance Towards Hunger'. India’s present total food grain production is more than sufficient to feed our billion plus population and the surplus food could be easily exported to earn foreign exchange if the UPA Government had an efficient policy for food management. Hunger in India is basically the outcome of Government’s wrong policies and mismanagement. BJP is committed for a hunger free India.
Strengthen Existing PDS System
The Government focus its energies in strengthening the existing Public Distribution System (PDS) to make it more effective. Much of the food from the PDS is diverted in the open market. PDS grains are also diverted to neighbouring countries like Nepal, Burma, Bangladesh, and even Singapore. There are several estimates about the extent of leakage and siphoning off of the grains.
The BJP takes pride that Chhattisgarh has presented a model PDS before the people of this country. It needs to be replicated in all the states. The BJP demands the Government for a complete overhaul of the existing PDS.
Flawed Procurement Policy And Storage
The UPA Government needs to fix its flawed procurement policy and inadequate storage infrastructure. Our current storage capacity is in shambles and even a five percent increase in procurement puts tremendous pressure on the storage facilities.
This year in many wheat growing states framers were forced to sell their produce in distress as the Centre was unable to meet its procurement target. Even supplying jute bags to states became an onerous task for the Centre
India’s current storage infrastructure is outdated and highly centralized. Today the farmers are growing more wheat than they ever had but their hard work goes in vain. The BJP demands the Government to set up a National Food Storage Grid which connects rural godowns, FCI storage facilities into one large network and it should be actively monitored through central agencies.
Moratorium on GM Crops
The Govt. should immediately put a moratorium on GM Crops in the Country because GM Crops will not increase productivity. These crops will pollute the seeds of farmers owned traditional varieties by cross-pollination.
Under IPR regime the MNCs want to destroy India’s seed security for royalty. Seed security is paramount to ensure food security. If seed will be controlled by the MNCs then the food security of this country will be compromised.
Promotion of Food Processing Industry
India has a large consumer base for all major global corporate giants in food and agriculture sector and they are exploiting it to serve their interests. But Indian farmers and food processing are unable to take advantage of it as the government is unable to provide proper linkages. The food processing industry has very low processing level i.e 2.2% for fruits and vegetables, around 35% in milk, 21% in meat and 6% in poultry products, which is significantly lower by international standards. Value addition to agriculture produce in India is just 20% with wastage estimated to be valued at around US $13 billion. UPA government failed to create storage change etc.
The miniscule budget for Food processing shows that the UPA Government is not serious in giving farmer the benefits of value addition and access to market through proper linkages. The BJP demands increased allocation and effective action plan to strengthen this potent sector.
Irrigation and Interlinking of Rivers
The Interlinking of Rivers project was a dream project of Shri Atalji led Government which was later scrapped by the UPA Government. The Supreme Court in its recent verdict has directed the government to link more than 30 rivers and divert waters to parched areas.
The BJP National Executive welcomes the Supreme Court's decision to revive the project as it has given a ray of hope to millions of farmers in the country who suffer due to lack of adequate irrigation facility in the country.
Policies to recharge the ground water level should be formulated. The farmers should be encouraged to use the sprinkler and drip system for irrigation to save the water. Subsidy should be given to farmers on using these irrigation techniques.
In a country like India where irrigation facilities are inadequate watershed management becomes important for growth in agriculture. The BJP Governments in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have done remarkable job by erecting thousands of check dams to hold the seasonal rainwater.
Soil Health and Organic Farming
Excessive use of chemicals in farming has pushed the organic component of soil in most states to alarming level. In states like Punjab the organic component in the soil has come down to almost zero (0.1-0.2%).
The abuse of chemicals has played havoc with the environment and food chain. All this has been necessitated because we developed high-yielding crop varieties and hybrids that were responsive to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The only way is green –manures and compost fertilization to recharge the soil health.
The Government needs to do a serious rethinking in its approach towards agriculture and promote organic agriculture which is the only sustainable model in this county. States like Gujarat and Karnataka have already taken lead in promoting organic farming but it should be taken up at the national level. Extensive research work needs to be done to explore the potential in organic farming and tap India's traditional agricultural wisdom.
There is an increasing demand and vast scope for the export of organic food across the world and Indian farmers are missing this opportunity. The Government agencies NHB and APEDA should take the responsibility and bear the cost of certification of organic produces which is presently high and beyond the average farmers’ reach. The Government should also give adequate level of subsidies for cultivation of organic/bio-fertilizer produce and promote their exports.
The agriculture research model has gone awry and needs drastic changes. Extension should be based on Natural Resource Management in different agro climatic zones. The country needs a farmers centric approach where agriculture research and extension services literature must be prepared and promoted in local languages.
Impact of WTO
Indian agriculture has been dragged into the ambit of the WTO and the Govt. has given market access for agro produces at a time when the developed countries have distorted global prices by their huge support to their farm sector.
Farmers in India cannot compete with the farmers in the developed world. European Union and the US have protected their markets through high tariffs barriers and non-tariff barriers. The US through its Farm Bill has increased direct payments to farmers by 10%.
NDA's Contribution in Agriculture
When the BJP led NDA Government was in power several epoch making decisions were taken. We introduced low interest regime for farm loans, launched Farm Income Insurance Scheme, distributed Kissan Credit Cards, gave remunerative prices to farmers and to ensure long term growth in Indian agriculture a National Commission on Farmers was constituted for the first time.
Unfortunately much of the good work by the NDA Government has been undone by the UPA Government. It scrapped Farm Income Insurance Scheme which could have been a revolutionary step in reviving agriculture. The Swaminathan Commission submitted all its four reports between Dec 2004 and October 2006 but the UPA Government has not been able to implement its recommendations till date.
The BJP ruled states have shown great commitment to revive agriculture and ensure security for farmers in spite of their limited resources. We have introduced low interest farm loans in all the states and it has been lowered to as low as one percent. Gujarat has shown exemplary growth in agriculture sector.
The BJP National Executive in its meeting at Mumbai today recommends following policy suggestions to ensure that Agriculture becomes profitable and viable for farmers.
10. Imports of agro commodities should not be encouraged.
11. Ensure a system where a fixed monthly income, incorporating the minimum support price can be guaranteed to the farmers. Farm Income Insurance Scheme (F.I.I.S.) should be introduced by the Government.
12. The existing PDS needs to be strengthened and connected with the National Food Grid. Chhattisgarh PDS model needs to be replicated everywhere in the country.
13. The Govt. should come-up on agro based small industrial units in the villages and should provide adequate incentive, technical and financial assistance.
14. Soil Health Card should be issued to all the farmers and modernization of laboratories meant for soil testing should also be undertaken at the earliest.
15. The BJP believes that the Government should launch an extensive farmers’ awareness campaign in order to help them increase the nutrient value of their farmlands.
16. The Centre should immediately implement National Commission on farmers report without any delay.
17. Minimum Support Price should be declared as per C2+50% formula, recommended by the National Commission on Farmers
18. The Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) policy regime should be rolled back to safeguard farmers from rising prices of Phosphate and Potash fertilizers.
19. MNREGA should be linked with agriculture
20. Proper financial assistance should be provided for improvement in animal husbandry and fisheries sector.
21. National Food grid should be established