Bhagyashree Pande. If there is electoral trouble brewing in MP for incumbent CM Shivraj Chouhan it is because of the gamble he took of turning a pulse producing state into wheat producing one. The Chouhan gamble for wheat got him accolades and even got the state awards for Best Wheat producer. But at what cost ? The success of wheat has come only to handful of large farmers but at the cost of pushing small and medium farmers of soyabean and pulses into deep debt, poverty and suicide. The trouble for Chouhan has compounded this season because the monsoons has failed and with it all promises he made of irrigation facilities lay bare. Despite announcing large irrigation projects the farmers have to still look at the skies and not at the canals or other irrigation projects that were promised to be delivered. The prosperity has not touched the farmers of MP can be seen in the income of agriculture households which is Rs 4021 per month.This is far lesser than rival wheat producing states like Punjab where the income of agriculture household is Rs 10862 and of Haryana Rs 7800 per month. Besides this, MP also lags behind when it comes to farm incomes all over India the income of a farmer is Rs 1414 per month whereas in MP the farmers income is Rs 1321 per month. Both these statistics reveal that the farmer in MP is not earning much out of working in the fields or from other sources related to agricultural work.

It is not as if the state govt has not spent money on agriculture the point is what the priorities of this agrarian state are. In 2014 MP govt spent Rs 8290 crs on agriculture which in 2019 has been doubled to Rs 16344 crs. But where is the money really spent ? Such a big sum has not been used on investing in agriculture instead it is spent on saving the revolt of the other farmers who are not the benficiaries of the wheat bounty. If on one hand wheat producers were pampered by being given a ‘bonus’ by Chouhan over and above the minimum price the garlic, pulse and soyabean farmers were seeing a crash of prices due to imports flooding the market. To stem this imbalance and the revolt thereof the state hastily launched an ill designed Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana (BBY) which is the deficit payment between the centre announced Minimum support price and the actual market price for other crops. The hastily designed yojana is meant to be an agriculture band aid from Chouhan sounds good for an election campaigns but has it reached the farmers ? Reports of CM Chouhan being upset with state machinery for having poorly delivered on BBY is abound. Farmers association say this money has been gobbled up by middlemen who are politically connected in some case part money has reached and in some it has not because of cumbersome process of applying for this scheme and the documentation required which the farmers are unable to furnish. Similar is the case with the Pradhan Mantri Bima yojana the beneficiaries have either got a pittance or are still awaiting assessment and in many cases it is becoming a case of pleading with the state machinery for what is rightly fully theirs. In both cases bureaucratic labryinth, middlemen and too many paperwork formalities for an illiterate farmer have come as a cropper that too when fields have to be made ready for sowing of the next season.

The choice of going with wheat is one but has the money been spent on improving the farms and fields of MP? The money spent on irrigation from 2014 to 2019 has risen from Rs 41271 crs to Rs 86568 cr. However only around 100 thousand hectare is under irrigation,whereas the total area under agriculture in the state is 239 thousand hectare. This means that more than 50% of the land does not have irrigation facilities and the farmers have to wait for monsoons to plough their fields. Besides the big farmers (which are only 9% as against Punjab/Haryana which has nearly 65% large farms) who benefit from canals can grow wheat in winters while the small farmers have only wells and other scarce ground water resources to grow pulses.

Given these realities it comes as no surprise that a farmer friendly Chouhan with a rural mass base is now facing a tough time asking for votes in the coming election. Such is the rural unrest that he had to cut down his rally which was meant to connect with the people as it got a very poor and in some cases agitated response. Yojanas and loan waivers can at best be a one time solution what the farmer of MP wants is a concrete long term vision which is for everyone and that can give him prosperity and a decent livelihood. Can CM Chouhan or his rivals come with such a vision which will bring prosperity for all farmers of MP need to be seen in this election?

PS- Statistics source MP govt , NSSO, RBI, Govt of India.

आज का दिन : ज्योतिष की नज़र में


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