A farmer holds a millet plant for a photograph in a field on the outskirts of Bengaluru, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Cabinet Likely To Approve Package For Farmers On Monday

The cabinet on Monday is likely to approve a package for farmers to boost their income and address distress in the farm sector ahead of the general election, sources said.

“The cabinet meeting is scheduled on Monday and the agriculture ministry’s proposal on addressing income deficit of small and marginal farmers is on the agenda,” a highly placed source said.

Also read: India Considering Paying Farmers Cash Instead of Subsidies

The ministry has recommended several options to provide both short and long-term solutions to address agrarian distress. However, a final call will be taken in the cabinet meeting as a huge cost is involved, the sources said.

One of the options proposed is waiving interest on crop loans for farmers who pay on time, costing an additional Rs 15,000 crore to the exchequer, the sources said.

There is also a proposal to completely waive premium for taking insurance policy for food crops. The centre is also evaluating the scheme followed by the Telangana and Odisha governments wherein a fixed amount is transferred directly into the bank account of farmers, the sources added.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh had recently indicated that the government would announce an agriculture package before the 2019-20 Budget, to be presented on Feb 1.

Also read: Modi Plans Cash Handout for Indian Farmers Before Election

Experts said the government has less time to implement any new scheme. The measure has to be such that it can be implemented faster to reap the political gains during the election.

The Modi government took farmers’ issues seriously after his Bharatiya Janata Party lost to the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the recent state polls because of rural distress.

Farmers are in distress owing to fall in prices of most crops in view of bumper crop.