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Union Budget 2018 | Finance Minister Arun Jaitley May Announce Scheme Similar to MP's Bhavantar Yojana

With farmers in several states miffed over falling crop prices, the Centre is devising ways to compensate farmers who fail to receive the Minimum Support Price.

Vivek Trivedi | News18.com

Updated:January 30, 2018, 6:26 PM IST
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Union Budget 2018 | Finance Minister Arun Jaitley May Announce Scheme Similar to MP's Bhavantar Yojana
In 2016, Madhya Pradesh government came forward with an innovative method called 'Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana' in which the state compensates farmers for losses they incur if their products are sold for less than the MSP. (Photo: News18)
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Bhopal: To check the burgeoning agrarian crisis, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to roll out a slew of pro-farmer measures during Union Budget 2018, including a ‘Price Deficiency Payment Mechanism’ on the lines of Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana implemented by Madhya Pradesh late last year.

With farmers in several states miffed over falling crop prices, the Centre is devising ways to compensate farmers who fail to receive the Minimum Support Price. Last year, Madhya Pradesh came forward with an innovative method called ‘Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana’ in which the state compensates farmers for losses they incur if their products are sold for less than the MSP.

Centre’s think tank, Niti Aayog, has been pressing for a mechanism which offers a subsidy to farmers in case the market offers them prices below the MSP for specific crops. Niti Aayog officials have remained in touch with MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who in December made a detailed presentation before PM Narendra Modi about the Yojana.

MP government introduced the scheme in June after it was rattled by a massive farmers’ protest, which intensified after five farmers were killed in police firing during a protest in Mandsaur district. In order to curb farmers’ discontent, mostly over falling farm prices, MP government had come out with a slew of measures – most notable of them being Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana, launched by CM Shivraj in Bhopal on October 11, 2017.

The agrarian crisis was not just limited to MP and had spread to all parts India.

"No wonder states like Maharashtra, UP, Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana, among others, have shown interest in the scheme," an officer in the state secretariat said. Officers of UP, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra have already visited Madhya Pradesh to know more about the Yojana and its implications.

Under the scheme, cash is transferred to the bank accounts of farmers in case the model rate of any crop is less than the Minimum Support Price. For calculating the Model Rate (MR) for any particular crop, data of rates is taken from union ministry for agriculture and existing rates in wholesale markets of MP and two nearby states.

Since inception, CM Shivraj has been singing praises of the scheme. “This scheme is unprecedented. Regardless of unkind weather, flood, drought or any other distress, we won’t leave farmers alone,” said CM Shivraj during Bahavantar cheque distribution event at Mandsaur early this month.

“It’s a unique scheme which deposits money directly into the accounts of farmers once their crop sells below MSP,” Director Agriculture Mohanlal Meena told News18.

“Besides the eight crops included in the scheme, we are planning to add onion, lentil and mustard,” he further said.

However, even as the scheme drew praises, it also met with flak within Madhya Pradesh over dismal model rates and prices slipping sharply after the state announced the scheme.

“Farmers are getting dirt cheap prices for crops and are not able to even recover their cultivation cost. Bhavantar has been a failure. Bureaucrats and traders are to blame for it,” said Rashtriya Kisan Mazdur Sangh president, Shivkumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’.

Congress MLA Jitu Patwari alleged that the scheme was nothing but a conspiracy of state government and traders to dupe farmers. AAP state convener Alok Agrawal also was critical claiming that the scheme was illegal under Mandi Act 1972.

Vishnu Patidar, a farmer from Shajapur claimed that since the inception of the scheme, prices have plummeted drastically. “Before Bhavantar, soybean was fetching Rs 2600 a quintal but it has since slipped to Rs 2000 to 2200 per quintal after the scheme was announced,” he said.

Ramlal Bapte, a farmer from Bihargaon in Betul claimed that he produced around 90 quintals of maize in his 3.75-acre land but the scheme only registered 30 quintals for compensation, inflicting him with a loss of Rs 1 lakh.
| Edited by: Aditya Nair
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