New Delhi, Mar 1 (IANS) The 3.6 percent growth rate achieved by the farm sector during the 11th Plan with overflowing granaries, sizable increase in farm export and encouraging estimates of Rabi crops made the finance minister "complacent" towards the agriculture sector in his budget, a farm leader said Friday.
"It is observed in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) draft and Economic Survey that farmers' income is stagnant on account of rising prices of inputs and 8 percent hike in labour cost. There is hardly any provision in the budget for income augmentation of farmers," Sudhir Panwar, president of Kisan Jagriti Manch, told IANS.
He said there is "a claim of 22 percent increase in the outlay for the agri sector, but if comparison is made between last year's budget estimates and inflation is adjusted, then this hike is reduced to an insignificant level".
"It is difficult for farmers to pay 4 percent interest in the current profit margin of different crops and inflation in the economy. The Rs.500 crore scheme for crop diversification aimed for green revolution area is good, but considering the large area it would have limited impact," Panwar said.
He said the Rs.200 crore for the pilot Nutri-Farms scheme is "a new welcome beginning".
"Similarly, the increased allocation for integrated watershed scheme in challenged areas may prove useful. The thrust given to Farmers producer companies and organizations following the demand by farmers associations and National Advisory Council suggestion would be helpful in organizing the farmers in the wake of entry of MNCs and FDI in agriculture retail," he said.
"It seems that absence of farmers vote bank, high food inflation and slow growth rate of the economy has curtailed the dues of farmers in the election year budget," he added.