Context: In the backdrop of a comprehensive economic package called Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Mission, the Chhattisgarh government’s Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana (RGKNY), has once again fueled the debate on income transfer schemes for reforming the agriculture sector in India.
- Chattisgarh is not the first state to implement a cash transfer scheme for farmers.
- Earlier, the Telangana government announced a cash transfer scheme - Rythu Bandhu - of Rs 4,000/acre, per season — this was raised to Rs 5,000/acre per season in kharif 2019-20.
- The Odisha government launched the KALIA scheme (Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation) on a somewhat similar pattern.
- West Bengal’s Krishak Bandhu and Jharkhand’s Mukhya Mantri Krishi Aashirwad Yojana are the other income support schemes worth mentioning.
- The central government has announced - PM Kisan Yojana - to provide income support to farmers.
These income support policies are welcome. But it is high time to evaluate these schemes and refine or merge some of them so that they serve their purpose in an efficient and inclusive manner without much leakage.
Need to merge or refine these schemes:
- Absentee landlords: Ideally, the money from these cash transfer schemes should go to the real tiller. But in large parts of the country, there is no record of tenancy.
- The government data shows only 10 percent tenancy in the country while several micro-level studies indicate that it could be anywhere between 25-30 per cent.
- Major presence of landless labourers: Majority of them are temporary and seasonal workers, and leaving the task of identification to panchayats and patwaris can open doors for large leakages and corruption.
- The time has come to think seriously about merging income support schemes, including the PM KISAN and state-level schemes, with the MGNREGA and price-subsidy schemes - food and fertiliser subsidies given by Centre and power subsidies given by state government.
- These schemes amount to Rs 5 lakh crore - that’s a good sum of money to start a basic income cover for poor households.
- This approach can cover landless labourers, farmers, and poor consumers - these categories overlap.
- Let there be an expert group to look closely into the functioning of each one of these schemes and create an umbrella scheme to take care of the poor and the needy.
- The best way would be to change the tenancy laws, and open up land lease markets, ensuring that the owner of the land has full rights to take his land back after the expiry of the lease period.
- The current law, favouring land to the tiller, is loaded against the owner, hence, much of the tenancy in the country remains oral.
- Synchronising MGNREGA with farm operations to contain the cost of farming as well as ensuring that those engaged in this employment guarantee scheme do useful and productive work.
- The legal framework of the MGNREGA scheme does allow this on farms owned by people of SC/ST communities, and on the lands of marginal farmers.
The Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyaya Yojana
- Chhattisgarh government announced that it will provide ₹13,000 an acre a year under a new income support programme.
- The amount will be distributed in four installments.In the first instalment, ₹1,500 crore would be distributed among 18 lakh farmers, more than 80% of them small and marginal farmers.
- The scheme would cover rice, maize and sugarcane farmers to begin with, and would expand to other crops later.
- Rice and maize farmers would get ₹10,000 an acre while sugarcane farmers would get ₹13,000.
PM-KISAN(Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi)
- It seeks to provide an annual grant of ₹6,000 to farmers in three installments.
- It is a central sector scheme.
- Initially, farmers with less than two hectares of land were eligible; subsequently, the benefit was extended to all farmers (about 140 million farmers) from June 2019 onwards.
- Definition of family for the Scheme is husband, wife and minor children.
- The entire responsibility of identification of beneficiary farmer families rests with the State / UT Governments.
Rythu Bandhu (Telangana)
- Rythu Bandhu of Telangana possesses no restrictions on the extent of land one should own.
- There is a restriction on the acreage to 50 acres in the Rabi season for Rythu Bandhu payouts.
- Rythu Bandhu incorporates even the tenant farmers under the scheme.
- farmers get ₹8,000 in two installments ahead of the Kharif and Rabi in Telangana.
Kalia (Odhisha)-Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation
- The KALIA scheme of Odisha offers annual assistance of Rs 12,500 each to farmers.
- it covers the landless agricultural labourers too and also seeks to provide help to vulnerable agricultural households, besides promising interest-free.
- Insurance for cultivators and landless agricultural households: The KALIA scheme also includes a life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident coverage of the same amount for 57 lakh households.
- For Elderly: The elderly, sick and differently-abled population who are unable to take up cultivation, will be provided Rs 10,000 per household per year.
- KALIA scheme supports farmers farming on a small scale, sharecropping, fishing, animal herding, which are not covered under bank loans, but are caught in debt traps set up by local moneylenders.
Krishak Bandhu scheme (West Bengal)
- Krishak Bandhu scheme of West Bengal offers an aid of Rs 5000 to farmers in two installments.
Mukhyamantri Krishi Ashirwad Yojana (Jharkhand)
- It will give farmers financial assistance of Rs 5,000 per acre for kharif crops