Davos 2020: Bharat Krishak Samaj’s Ajay Vir Jakhar Calls For Scrapping Crop Insurance Scheme, Essential Commodities Act

Ajay Jakhar, head of Bharat Krishak Samaj, calls for doubling allocation to MNREGA instead of pushing PM-Kishan plan.

A farmer collecting his produce. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)
A farmer collecting his produce. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

India should do away with crop insurance and the Essential Commodities Act amid the troubled state of the country’s agricultural sector, according to the head of the Farmers’ Forum India.

“The government needs to do away with the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in the budget as it’s been a waste of money, no one seems to be benefiting,” Ajay Vir Jakhar, chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, told BloombergQuint on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Jakhar pressed for involving farmers and the states in the policy-making process of agriculture-centric schemes.

PMFBY, launched in February 2016, is the government-sponsored insurance scheme providing cover against crop failure. Jakhar said scrapping the scheme will save up to Rs 20,000 crore for the government as the programme has design flaws like wrong crop-cutting assessments and lack of awareness among the farmers.

He also called for repealing the Essential Commodities Act that empowers the government to notify stock-holding limits of certain food articles to keep prices in check, saying that the law has “outlived” its purpose.

Davos 2020: Bharat Krishak Samaj’s Ajay Vir Jakhar Calls For Scrapping Crop Insurance Scheme, Essential Commodities Act

Jhakhar was also critical of the direct-benefit transfer of fertiliser subsidy.

The government didn’t take farmers and stakeholders into confidence.  The proposed structure for DBT of fertiliser subsidy designed to shift the burden of collecting subsidies from industries to farmers. 
Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj 
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‘Focus On MNREGA Over PM Kisan’

Jakhar proposed doubling allocation to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, a UPA-era scheme, rather than increasing outlay under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi.

PM-Kisan was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi just before the Lok Sabha polls to provide direct cash benefit of Rs 6,000 annually to each of the country’s 14 crore farmers. The scheme, however, excludes landless farm workers.

Jakhar said the rural employment guarantee scheme covers a greater number of people and not just the landed gentry.

He also said cash doles were risky in the long run as they open up the opportunity for the government to move away from constitutional duties of welfare activities such as infrastructure and medicare.

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