Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao suggested that 50 per cent of wages paid by farmers to labourers for agricultural operations be met by the Central government from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Speaking at the Chief Ministers’ conference as part of the third governing council meeting of NITI Ayog, presided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at New Delhi on Sunday, Mr. Rao said that 50 per cent of wages to labourers be paid from MGNREGS and the balance 50 per cent by farmers who employed them in their fields. This will not only help farmers in timely agricultural operations, but ensure employment to weaker sections.
Scarcity of labour
Mr. Rao regretted the distress among farmers due to scarcity of labour in villages to take up agricultural operations. Therefore, there was an urgent need to include agriculture among permitted activities under MGNREGS to attract labour.
He made several suggestions to double the income of farmers in the country which included setting up of crop colonies. The entire country should be divided into colonies for specific crops based on agro-climatic regions for implementation of minimum support price. It will prevent avoidable glut of certain commodities in market.
The Centre should support R&D in agriculture through institutions in different States to increase productivity in agriculture.
The vulnerability of the agriculture sector to shortage of water can be minimised by supporting State governments in completion of ongoing irrigation projects and supply of adequate and quality power.
Mr. Rao sought a thorough review of import of foodgrains, oil seeds, oil products and textiles to ensure that the country did not face undue extraneous competition or market manipulation. Allied agricultural activities like dairy, sheep rearing, fisheries and poultry should be exempted from Income Tax as they supplemented income to farming community.
He complained that the process of consultations and drafting of rules for the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act took an unduly long time and led to an inordinate delay in release of funds by the Centre.
He urged the Centre to support initiatives as that of Telangana government in waiving outstanding loans of farmers to the extent of ₹ 17,000 crore and providing input subsidy of ₹ 4,000 per acre each for kharif and rabi crops as they will help the farmers to come out of the vicious cycle of debt trap. The input subsidy will help 55 lakh farmers to cultivate 1.5 crore acres in Telangana.