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'No proposal to waive agrarian loans': B C Patil

Agriculture Minister B C Patil talks to DH on measures to optimise yield and offer fair prices to farmers in the market
Last Updated : 17 August 2021, 08:16 IST

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Much will be riding on the agriculture sector again this year as the lockdown pushed people back to villages. Agriculture Minister B C Patil talks to Akram Mohammed of DH on measures to optimise yield and offer fair prices to farmers in the market. Excerpts:

What is the outlook this year for the agriculture sector that recorded growth last year?

This year, too, good rainfall is forecast for the state, which is expected to be better than the rainfall previous year. By the end of May, the state received an average of 155 mm rainfall. This year, pre-monsoon showers were good and we received 254 mm rainfall, which is 64% above normal. This is a good sign as it has helped sowing.

Farmers often complain about the availability of fertilisers, seeds and other products.

We have sufficient stock this year. For the sowing season, overall demand of Karnataka is 6.3 lakh quintal seeds, against which we have a stock of 7.74 lakh quintal. Similarly, we have adequate stock of key fertilizers as sowing will pick up during the month.

Dependency on agriculture has risen as jobs in urban areas have reduced due to the lockdown. Any special focus on agriculture?

The government has been focusing on the sector. We’ve been offering subsidies to farmers under various schemes, providing mechanised tools such as tractors etc. Cash incentive of Rs 6,000 is transferred under PM Kisan Samman Yojana, and Rs 4,000 under CM Kisan Samman Yojana.

Despite good yield, the primary concern of farmers remains the market. Last year, despite good yields farmers suffered because of the lockdown. There are similar concerns this year.

All the food grains produced were sold last year. Even this year, the government is doing all it can to help the agrarian community. All industries were closed, save for farmers activities. Even transportation of farm goods were allowed. In rural areas, even before lockdown was relaxed fertilizers, seeds and related stores were allowed to remain open till 12 noon when other shops shut by 10.

The Israeli model of agriculture proposed by the H D Kumaraswamy-led coalition government has been scrapped due to lack of funds. Will the BJP government pursue it, especially for farmers in arid regions?

To help such farmers, we’re offering up to 90% subsidy for micro-irrigation projects. Last year, the Finance department had discontinued state’s 40% subsidy for such projects. This was taken up at a recent meeting with the CM where we highlighted that subsidy has gone down from 90% to 50%. The CM directed the Finance department not to stop funds for farmer-related projects.

There are complaints that only a handful of farmers benefit from the PM Fasal Bima Yojana and that insurance claims are not honoured.

All insurance claims till 2019-20 are cleared. The insurance amount is based on the past crop-cutting experience. The companies determine a threshold income based on average crop yield of a land over the past seven years. In some places yield will be good and it’ll be bad in other places. But, farmers don’t understand the criteria used to disburse insurance and feel that they are being cheated.

Is there a proposal to waive crop loans as farmers are in distress?

We’re providing interest-free loans through the cooperation department to help farmers. There’s no proposal for a loan waiver.

Farmers groups have raised complaints of skyrocketing fertilizer prices.

Cost of key raw materials used to manufacture fertilizers has increased, after which the government has increased subsidy. Earlier, subsidy amount was Rs 500 for one bag of fertilizer. It is now Rs 1,200 subsidy per bag. We are offering fertilizers at old rates to farmers.

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Published 15 June 2021, 16:33 IST

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