Pradeep Pattanayak

The Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme and Odisha Balaram Yojana have been launched with an objective to improve the financial condition of farmers. But, the real picture tells an altogether different story. 

Meet Giridhari Sandha, a farmer, who lives in Bargarh district’s Budeipali village. He owns five acres of land where he works all the year round. But, in turn, what he earns is just enough to feed five stomachs of his family. 

From the condition of Sandha’s decrepit mud hut with thatched-roof where his family lives, one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out his financial condition. 

“The yojanas and schemes launched by the State government are hardly doing any good to us. They are useless because we are living in the same condition for years. We are yet to get any benefits from these schemes and yojanas. Even our wish to get our house constructed still remains unfulfilled. It seems we have to wait till doomsday,” said Sandha. 

Sandha’s wife Nalini was critical of the government. “We have not benefitted from the government’s schemes and yojanas at all. Had they been any benefits to us, we would have been able to send our children to schools and wouldn’t have stayed in such a wretched condition,” rued Nalini. 

Sandha’s family is not the single instance of farmer family which has alone been living on the breadline. There are scores of such families across the State. 

And, the government has also admitted it that farmers’ income has been dismal. 

The written reply of Agriculture Minister Arun Sahoo placed in the House says the farmer families’ monthly average income has increased only by Rs136 or 2.73 percent in six years. 

The monthly income of a farmer family was Rs 4,976 in 2012-13. The same has gone up to Rs 5,112 by 2018-19. From these figures, only a gloomy picture of farmers’ living condition emerges whereas their counterparts in the neighbouring States like Bihar and West Bengal are in a comparatively better position. 

While the monthly income of a farmer in Bihar in the same period has registered a hike of 112 percent, from Rs 3,558 to Rs7,542, a West Bengal farmer’s monthly income has increased from Rs 3,980 to Rs 6,762, registering a growth of 70 percent. 

Even, the monthly income of farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh has increased 75 and 87 percent respectively. 

Back in Odisha, there has not been a discernible rise in the farmers’ earning despite the State government’s yojanas specifically meant for farmers. 

Hitting out at the State Government, State Co-ordinator Nabanirman Krushak Sangathan, Seshadev Nanda said, “The farmers in the State are the victim of the State government’s conspiracy. The conspiracy is to keep them poor. It can easily be understood from the fact that the government is constructing ‘Kalyan Mandap’ instead of cold storage. Instead of taking steps to irrigate farm lands, the government is constructing cremation grounds and toilets, giving importance to non-productive sectors over productive sectors.”

Meanwhile the Opposition have targeted the State government on the financial condition of the farmers continues to be dismal despite yojanas and continuously receiving Krishi Karman Award.  

The Opposition found the government’s failure in lifting paddy from mandis, irrigation facility to farmlands and constructing cold storages as the reason for farmers such miserable condition. 

“If millers will fleece farmers, no irrigation facility provided to farmers, farmers will suffer from distress sale, there will be no cold storage facility, how can the financial condition of farmers improve,” asked President of BJP Krushak Morcha Pradeep Purohit, adding, the BJD government is the bane of farmers’ existence. 

Echoing the same, Chairman of Odisha Pradesh Kishan Congress Amiya Pattanayak said, “The farmers are still living in abject poverty only because the government is least concerned about the welfare of the farmers.”

On the other hand, Agricultural Minister Arun Sahoo said, “The GSTP of Odisha is higher than the National average. We are trying to increase the farmers’ income by two times or multiple times.”

While the Union government is laying emphasis on increasing the farmers’ income two times in five years, the State government has also been launching schemes and yojanas for them. Yet, the farmers are languishing in abject poverty.