Farmer-Friendly Push: The Chhattisgarh government’s focus on grassroots economy could perhaps be a good model of development in these troubled times.

The Chhattisgarh government has unveiled a number of farmer-friendly policies. The State government will start paddy procurement from December 1 at the support price of Rs 2,500 per quintal. Paddy procurement has been a political and social issue in the State. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel-led State government is procuring paddy without any reduction of rate amid the COVID-19 crisis. Paddy is the major crop of Chhattisgarh, referred to as the Rice Bowl of India.

Mr Baghel has fulfilled his promise made to farmers by waiving agricultural loans of 17,82,000 farmers worth Rs 9,000 crore. Besides, the Chhattisgarh government has set a new record by procuring 80.37 lakh metric tonnes of paddy from farmers at Rs 2500 per quintal in Kharif marketing year 2018-19. Additionally, beating its record, 83.94 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was procured at the support price in the Kharif marketing year of 2019-20.

The chief minister has taken continuous decisions in the interest of farmers. An outstanding irrigation tax worth Rs 244.18 crore of more than 17 lakh farmers was waived by the State government. Additionally, compensation for acquisition of agricultural land has been quadrupled, besides providing free and subsidised electricity to more than 5 lakh farmers, accounting for Rs 900 crore annually.

Schemes galore

The Chhattisgarh government has started Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana. According to the scheme, the State government transfers Rs 5,750 crore directly into bank accounts of 19 lakh farmers. The scheme is quite similar to the farmer-friendly schemes of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. An assistance of Rs 4,500 crore has directly been provided to the State’s farmers under three instalments.

A vast majority of 90 per cent of beneficiaries, who have benefited under the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana, belong to marginal sections of society, such as SC, ST, OBC and economically-weaker sections. The on-the-spot assistance provided by the scheme has served as a lifeline for farmers with the revival of their economic status.

The Godhan Nyaya Yojana was launched on July 20, 2020, aiming at promotion of organic farming and creation of new employment opportunities in rural and urban areas. With a total of 6,430 Gauthans in the State, 3,726 Gauthans are actively engaged in procurement of cow dung. Cow dung is purchased from villagers and cow dung collectors at Rs 2 per kg. About 26,76,000 quintals of cow dung has been purchased in the State so far. Around 2,10,017 beneficiaries have registered themselves in the State, and 1,32,855 cattlemen have been benefited so far.

Going grassroots

The Chhattisgarh government has amended the Agricultural Produce Market Act to protect the interests of farmers and general citizens of the state in the wake of three new agricultural laws passed by the Central government. The State government had called a special session of the legislative assembly on October 20 and passed a resolution, amending the Act, making provisions for monitoring the sale of agricultural produce and establishment of electronic trading platforms. With this, the chief minister has fulfilled his promise of providing justice to Chhattisgarh’s farmers.

Meanwhile, 21,48,606 farmers, including 2,49,080 new farmers, have registered themselves for procurement of paddy at the support price in more than 2,000 cooperative societies of the State. Registered farmers have harvested 27,59,404 hectares of paddy. The area under paddy harvesting in Chhattisgarh has increased by 73,387 hectares, which is about an increase of 2.73 per cent this year. Some 19,55,236 farmers had registered to sell paddy in the State in 2019.

The Bhupesh Baghel government has accorded a top priority to agriculture, the farming community and rural development. The central Indian State’s focus on the grassroots economy could perhaps be a good model of development in these troubled times.

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