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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 July 2024

TMC government grant for farmers before rains: First tranche of Krishak Bandhu scheme released

The timing of the funds release — just eight days after the Trinamool Congress bagged 29 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal — can be construed as the ruling party's thanksgiving gesture towards the agrarian class, said a source in the state government

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 13.06.24, 07:52 AM
Mamata Banerjee.

Mamata Banerjee. File picture

The Mamata Banerjee government on Wednesday began releasing financial assistance to nearly 1.05 crore farmers and sharecroppers under the state’s Krishak Bandhu (Natun) scheme, which ensures that a farmer gets between 4,000 and 10,000 annually to cultivate their plots.

The timing of the funds release — just eight days after the Trinamool Congress bagged 29 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal — can be construed as the ruling party's thanksgiving gesture towards the agrarian class, said a source in the state government.

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"This government has always been sensitive towards the needs of the agrarian class.... After the Lok Sabha polls, in which the people belonging to the agrarian class showed their support for the ruling party, the bonding between the two has been further strengthened," said the source, explaining what he meant by "thanksgiving" by the government.

The Krishak Bandu scheme was launched in January 2019 by the state government when farmers were given a maximum of 6,000 annually. On June 17, 2021, after Trinamool returned to power for the third time, the Krishak Bandhu (natun) scheme was launched where the upper limit of the assistance was increased to Rs 10,000 annually.

Sources in the state agriculture department said the first installment of assistance (half of the amount) was being given to the farmers ahead of the kharif (season) and the second tranche would be paid before the rabi (winter) season.

Under the scheme, a farmer having cultivable land of one acre or more would get 10,000 annually. Farmers having less quantum of land would get assistance in proportion to the land they own. The minimum annual grant is 4,000.

The chief minister made the announcement in her X handle.

“Happy to announce that we are now releasing today onwards Rs 2,900 crore directly into the bank accounts of our about 1.05 crore farmers (including Bargadars) under our Krishak Bandu (Natun) scheme… We are committed to our farmers’ economic betterment and social security,” Mamata wrote on X on Wednesday.

Sources said releasing the assistance just before the monsoon would help the farmers who were struggling to cultivate their plots because of an abnormal rise in the input cost.

“As the farmers were getting assistance before the arrival of the monsoon, they can prepare a cultivation plan. They can first prepare the seedbed and as soon as the monsoon arrives, seedlings can also be readied,” said a senior official in the agriculture department.

The sources said although nearly 59 lakh farmers in Bengal got the Centre’s PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, under which a farmer gets a maximum of Rs 6,000 annually, the state’s scheme is important as it covers more cultivators and extends more benefits to them.

“Because of a series of preconditions like income ceiling, several farmers in the state cannot avail of the Centre’s scheme. But the state’s scheme does not have any precondition and that’s why more than 1 crore farmers and sharecroppers avail of it," said a source.

The sources also said because of the abnormal hike in the cost of inputs like fertilisers, the farmers were being forced to cut down their cultivable plots. The timely release of the assistance would help the farmers to some extent cultivate the maximum quantum of land this year.

A section of the officials said the release of the grant ahead of the monsoon was praiseworthy but the government had to keep in mind that a proper procurement plan had to be put in place to help the farmers get a proper price for their produce.

“Until and unless a farmer gets a proper price for his produce, he cannot be encouraged to grow crops in larger areas,” said an official.

This year, the state government had set a target of procuring 70 lakh tonnes of paddy from the farmers. But the state could procure only 49 lakh tonnes so far and the figure is unlikely to go up as a new harvesting season would start within a month.

“The state can increase the number of procurement centres and announce a better incentive over and above the Centre’s rate for procurement of paddy to encourage farmers to grow the crop,” said a source.

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