Suvarna Bhoomi is fool's gold to farmers

A Fruitless wait Farmers queue up in front of a tahsildar’s office to get documents  required to apply for the Suvarna Bhoomi Yojana. DH photo

That is a comment which can apply to most government programmes, but more so to the government’s ambitious project to revive small and marginal farming - Suvarna Bhoomi.
The programme envisages a grant of up to Rs 10,000 to small and marginal farmers, to help them take up agricultural and allied activities.

The programme seeks to cover 10 lakh farmers’ families, including two lakh Scheduled Caste and one lakh Scheduled Tribe farmers.

Throughout the State, thousands of farmers queueing up in front of the government offices in taluks to apply for the programme is a common sight over the last few days.
The farmers have been trying to put together the required documentation including the ‘pahani’ papers to prove their eligibility for the grant.

But the downside of the programme is that in each taluk, it is limited to 5,000 small and marginal farmers, including those belonging to SC and ST categories.

With more than 20,000 farmers eligible in each taluk, the rush of farmers has left officers with a headache about distributing the largesse.

By lottery system

According to the government norms, if the applicants number more than 5,000 in a taluk, beneficiaries are selected by a lottery by the officers.

While that appears to be a way out, it is also a system which is unjust and unfair, as finally, it will be luck and not eligibility that will matter. Thus, the programme, while claiming to benefit small and marginal farmers in the State, actually benefits a small minority, leaving the less fortunate deprived and dissatisfied.

“Due to unseasonal rains and volatile market, agriculture has already become a lottery. And now, we are at the mercy of one more lottery,” says a farmer.

The lottery system is already stoking up acute unhappiness among farmers. Many farmers feel that it might even lead to friction between officers and farmers, leading to law and order problems.

Sustainable solutions

“Instead of drafting such programmes as cosmetic solutions to our problems, why can’t the government think of long-term, sustainable  solutions to our problems,” is the plaintive plea of a marginal farmer who is praying that he will be selected in the lottery.

But, the villages of the district are too far from the posh government offices in Bangalore, for that cry to reach.

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