Press Release: Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy, Forum for a Sustainable Environment

Is FFGG Working for BJP?

20 February 2021

I saw a report in print media [19th February 2021] by the Secretary of Forum For Good Governance [FFGG] related to a letter sent to Telangana State [TS] Government asking to limit Rythu Bandu assistance to farmers with 5 acres and won’t come under Centre stipulated criteria. He quoted Central government, wherein it is paying six thousands to farmers with 5 acres with given eligibility criteria.  In fact TS CM said this scheme applicable to all farmers who owns the land. He did not include tenant farmers as we all know the fact that tenant has an agreement with the farmer like house renting. Even in majority of the cases farmers cultivate with the help of labour or assistant(s). It appears that the FFGG has little knowledge on the subject matter of “Agriculture in India and more particularly in TS” but blindly supporting the BJP government’s policy at the Centre.  Unlike fertilizer subsidy, why the centre choose farmers with 5 acres & why the scheme at all? There are some basic questions:

On what basis limit of 5 acres were chosen by the BJP government at the Centre or FFGG? Is 5 acres under rainfed the same as irrigated? I published few articles demanding free power; included the same in Agriculture Black Paper released by CLP in 2001; in 2003 Dr. YSR presented to Congress High Command and convinced them; as CM signed the first file on free power. In TS since 2004 farmers are getting free power for 9 hours for bore-wells and now TS government is giving for 24 hours. By spending thousands of crores lakhs of acres were brought under canal irrigation – large share through pumping at huge cost for power.  Let us see few issues:

Large Farms: If a large farmer keeps the land fallow, he won’t use major part of subsidies/incentives, insurance/loans won’t use; and during disasters, he won’t receive compensation. Generally trees grow in hose lands. Here they won’t contribute to produce wastage and use of inputs to that extent.

Insurance disparities: All farmers are not eligible for insurance cover [government and farmer pays the premium]? Niti Aayog says Insurance Companies [mostly private] minting money with this scheme.

Loans disparities: Every year Union Finance Ministry allocates lakhs of crores towards agriculture loans. Here all farmers are not taking loans from banks. However, nobody knows where this money really is going? is it for agriculture or for non-agriculture? How much is coming back? Through Loan Waiver mechanism how much government is losing? etc.

Fertilizer Subsidy disparities: Fertilizer Subsidy component vary with state, farm size, crop, irrigated or non-irrigated, etc.  Punjab, Andhra Pradesh [undivided], Haryana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh are the main beneficiaries of fertilizer subsidy on per hectare basis. In these states fertilizer consumption per hectare is significantly higher than the national average. For example, per hectare subsidy in Punjab was around Rs. 3924 and the same for Rajasthan was Rs. 894.   

An inverse relationship between farm size and proportion of fertilized area to gross cropped area was witnessed during all the years. The intensity of fertilizer use was significantly higher on small and marginal farms compared to large farms. The average fertilizer consumption per hectare of gross cropped area was the highest (126.2 kg) on marginal holdings and the lowest on large farms (55.9 kg) in 2001-02. The average subsidy was the highest (Rs. 916.2/ha) on marginal farms and the lowest on large farms (Rs. 405.8/ha). 

In un-irrigated area treated with fertilizers is 53.5% while this share for irrigated area was 91.6% in 2001-02. The share of fertilizer consumption in un-irrigated area was 30.7% in 2001-02. Net area sown is 140 Mha [42.57% of the country] & Net irrigated area is 64.7 Mha. That is 46.2% of the net sown area is under irrigation.

Rice and wheat were the major users of fertilizer subsidy accounting for over half of the total subsidy in 2001-02. The other major fertilizer consuming crops are sugarcane and cotton.  With the GM cotton entry it jumped in area and thus consumption.

Subsidies going in to Black Marketing: Around one-third of the subsidies on fertilizers, CNG, Kerosene are going in to black market. To avoid this, UPA government introduced [my suggestion] direct transfer of subsidy to beneficiaries – by creating Aadhar and linking it. PM Narendra Modi in his address to Parliament on 7th February 2017 said government saved Rs. 49,500 crore. However, this scheme of fertilizer was not extended to all states as yet.
In addition to all these, there are umpteen subsidised schemes. With all these, farmers have no infrastructure to minimise post-harvest losses from extreme weather events. Around 40% of the produce is going as waste and thus to that extent wasting inputs/subsidies, etc. In these circumstances farmers wanted receive MSP for his produce. However, to stream line all the subsidies/incentives, we need to implement cooperative farming as proposed in the above cited black paper in 2001.

MSP Legal Status: The major problem that the farmers are facing is getting minimum support price [MSP] for his produce irrespective of farm size/holdings as MSP has no legal standing. In fact on my proposal UPA Government advised the AP government to pay in Cheques. But nobody cared on this as they want buy at lower price and export lakhs of tons and mint money. Also in the case of paddy/rice the PDS rice is entering in to black market. On 18th February 2021 government of India asked the Punjab & Haryana governments to ensure online payment for crops procured at MSP directly to farmers from next procurement season. The farmers are asking a legal status to MSP to overcome these hurdles.
Please do something good for farmers and not for BJP!!!

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Formerly Chief Technical Advisor – WMO/UN & Expert – FAO/UN
Fellow, Telangana Academy of Sciences [Founder Member]
Convenor, Forum for a Sustainable Environment

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Feb 21, 2021

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy