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Column: Will ‘Samridhi’ Actually Make Farmers Prosperous?

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has unveiled the state’s new agriculture policy, ‘Samridhi’ stating that it is aimed at augmenting farmers’ income and enhancing the use of technology in farming.

Launching the policy Patnaik also sought to bring KALIA, his flagship scheme for farmers, into focus saying that it had given them dignity and now he also wanted them to make extensive use of technology and become partners in development.

But KALIA has not exactly been the kind of success that the government claims it to be. In fact, the scheme has been mired in controversies ever since its launch. The latest controversy is about the scaling down of financial assistance to farmers who are beginning to ask questions. Faced with a tight economic situation the state government has sought to tag it with the PM Kisan yojana.

But this has seriously dented the image of the state government which in the past had repeatedly claimed that its scheme was better than the central scheme. It has been touting the scheme as the panacea for the problems plaguing the farming community.

It also collected accolades from economists and agriculture experts who hailed the scheme mainly because instead of taking the conventional route of bringing relief to farmers through loan waivers it focused on making them self-reliant. Besides it also covers the landless and the share-croppers.

Significantly, the definition of share-cropper has been quite nebulous and farmers falling under this category have struggled for long for the recognition of their rights. Odisha is one of the few states in the country where special attention is being paid to this class of farmers.

While the scheme elicited praise from experts because of these features for the ordinary farmers its major attraction was the transfer of cash to their accounts. This fetched the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) handsome dividends at the hustings. Till then the state government had appeared extremely reluctant to cooperate with the Centre with regard to the implementation of PM Kisan Yojana and even delayed sending the list of state farmers to Delhi. It kept pitching KALIA as the superior of the two schemes and strong enough to take care of the state’s vast farming community.

However, with the state’s financial burden mounting the government changed tack and some of its senior leaders made suggestions about linking the two schemes and sharing of the financial burden. But with all this, the state scheme has lost its sheen and the image of the government has taken a knock.

Hence, while the new agriculture policy lays emphasis on enhancing the income of farmers and making them technology-oriented the real challenge for the government would be inspiring confidence among them about its intention and ability to address the slew of issues that face the farming sector. This is extremely important because there are signs of farmer unrest in the state and allegations of farmer suicides, too, have been surfacing at regular intervals. If the new policy is able to instil confidence among farmers and make their lives better then it is bound to be hailed as a success.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the 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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