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Ashutosh Mishra

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government’s new agriculture policy, aptly named Samridhi (prosperity) as it focuses on enhancing farmers’ income and development of small and marginal cultivators to achieve sustainable and stable agricultural growth, is certain to face a number of challenges at the implementation stage.

The most formidable of these challenges will be inspiring confidence among the farmers with regard to the utility and honest execution of the policy which has received the cabinet’s nod at a time when the government has been forced to scale down financial assistance to the members of the farming community under KALIA, its flagship scheme for their welfare. This has substantially eroded their confidence in the state government which faced with a tight economic situation has now decided to seek relief through the PM Kisan yojana. The state farmers with reduced KALIA benefits will be compensated through the central scheme as they will be now be the beneficiaries of both.

This has, however, seriously dented the image of the state government which eversince the launch of KALIA had been touting it as the panacea for all the problems facing the farmers. It had been collecting accolades from economists most of whom had lauded the scheme which instead of taking the traditional route of waiving loans focussed more on making farmers self reliant.

But there was no denying the fact that the cash transfer to the accounts of the farmers was one of the biggest attractions of the scheme which fetched the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) handsome votes in the last elections. The government had then practically turned its back on the PM Kisan yojana and even delayed sending the list of state farmers to the Centre.Keen to score political points it wanted to prove that KALIA was better than the central scheme and that the state government was competent enough to take care of Odisha’s farming community.

The financial crunch, however, changed the situation and made the state government change its strategy. With its financial component slashed KALIA has lost some of its seen and with that the government’s image has taken a knock. So making farmers believe in the new agriculture policy will definitely be a challenge for the government.

Second and equally important is making policy work at the implementation level. As a document every policy looks attractive because it is couched in a language that makes it sound lofy. But problems begin when the government seeks to carry it out on the ground. It is there that it encounters the real challenges.

For example it is easy to talk about an inclusive policy that gives equal importance to all sections of farmers--big, small, marginal and even the landless. In Odisha we are also talking about giving sharecroppers their due even though there is still a lot of confusion with regard to their legal status. Farming community is vast and one of the most significant contributors to state’s economy. But it is highly stratified which makes it extremely difficult to deal with their hopes and aspirations within the framework of any policy. Since the new policy is going to be put to test soon it would be interesting to see how it copes with the challenge of keeping this diverse community with a myriad problems united with the single aim of strengthening the state’s economy.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same)

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