Can farmers pay back?

Can farmers pay back?
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First Published: Thu, Mar 01 2007. 12 56 AM IST
Updated: Thu, Mar 01 2007. 12 56 AM IST
Suresh Martin Chauhan
A professional who turned farmer, Panipat
The farm sector stands partially redressed. The Budget has rightly allocated funds to departments concerned with arresting groundwater depletion and water harvesting.
Farm credit is a sop, but what is really worrying is the payback capability of farmers in the relatively unstable agricultural market and their total dependency on the vagaries of nature. The crop insurance scheme would redress the issue but also create a heavy burden on the Centre and, thus eventually, the taxpayer.
As far as raising credit is concerned, I see this more on paper right now. Only a group of farmers who can rotate finance are using this. Special Economic Zones have not been mentioned—but they should be implemented only on non-agricultural land or less-productive land. Owners should be compensated at market rates and should also have a stake in these zones.
Actually, there should be special agricultural zones, earmarked areas across the country, which specialize in particular crops to maximize production at a lower cost, taking into consideration local climatic conditions, water table positions and demand patterns. The Budget has measures for creating jobs, but a lot has to be done to remove disguised unemployment in the agriculture sector. This is overburdening the land and thus lowering agricultural per capita income.
Fertilizers should be cheaper after the Budget and the lowering of taxes on petroleum products, particularly diesel, should help us. The government needs to come up with good marketing, better seeds and more avenues for exports.
The finance minister has promised us good seeds, better support prices and creation of infrastructure, but he has not been particular as to how he will implement this.
This has been a low-profile Budget with inflationary tendencies creating a level of uncertainty. But like all low-profile Budgets it should have long-term advantages.
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First Published: Thu, Mar 01 2007. 12 56 AM IST
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