EDEN IAS CURRENT AFFAIRS – Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan

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EDEN IAS CURRENT AFFAIRS – Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan

Introduction

Union Cabinet recently approved new umbrella scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA) to give major boost to pro-farmer initiatives of Government. The Scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to farmers for their produce as announced in Union Budget for 2018. The scheme was launched in keeping with Government’s commitment and dedication for Annadata.

This is an unprecedented step taken by the Government of India to protect the farmers’ income. The government has already increased the MSP (minimum support price) of kharif crops by following the principle of 1.5 times the cost of production. It is expected that the increase in MSP will be translated to farmer’s income by way of robust procurement mechanism in coordination with the state governments.

 

What is the Scheme?

The AASHA scheme has three components, and these will complement the existing schemes of the Department of Food and Public Distribution for procurement of paddy, wheat and other cereals and coarse grains where procurement is at MSP now. The first part is the Price Support Scheme (PSS). Here, physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds and copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies. Besides NAFED, Food Cooperation of India will also take up procurement of crops under PSS. The expenditure and losses due to procurement will be borne by the Centre.

 

Three Components of PM-AASHA

  • Price Support Scheme (PSS).
  • Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS)
  • Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS).

 

In the Union Budget 2018, the government had relayed its commitment to the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022. Now, efforts are on to set up a new market architecture to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices on their produce. The initiatives in this regard include setting up of Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) so as to promote 22,000 number of retail markets in close proximity of farm gate and to robust pro-farmer export policy.

Other pro-farmers’ initiatives launched by the government include implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana and the distribution of soil health cards.

 

Significance of PM-AASHA

  • Income Security to farmers: The policy is an important step to achieve government’s commitment to double farmers’ income by 2022. If properly implemented, the scheme is expected to help revive the rural economy by assuring better income to farmers and thus address farmers’ distress
  • Stabilizing commodity markets:It will help in stabilising commodity markets and will also benefit the farmers by providing options to the state governments to compensate farmers when the market prices fall below MSP.
  • Better coverage of MSP:MSP procurement system has been very poor both in terms of geography and the crops covered. The new scheme would ensure better coverage of MSP and provision of crop-wise procurement is expected to benefit both farmers and states.
  • Reduce the need for physical procurement:The PDPS scheme under PM-AASHA will reduce the need for the government to physically procure food crops as the difference between the support and market prices can instead simply be paid in cash to the farmer.
  • Reduce storage and wastage: As the need for physical procurement will reduce, it will also reduce the consequent needs for transport and store them and then dispose of them under PDS. This would also reduce wastage of grains/crops.
  • Reduce food subsidy bill:In recent years, the government has been seeing the accumulation of large food grain stocks in its godowns over and above the buffer requirement. This entails storage and wastage costs that add on to the food subsidy bill. Thus the new policy would help in bringing down India’s food subsidy bill.
  • Crop diversification: Though every year MSPs are announced for different types of crops before the sowing season begins, actual procurement at MSP is restricted to a few crops such as paddy and wheat. This has led farmers to excessively focus on the crops with assured procurement thus resulting in a skewed cropping pattern- primarily oriented towards rice and wheat leading to reduce cultivation of coarse cereals. The new scheme is expected to diversify the cropping pattern and reduce stress on soil and water.

Improve procurement infrastructure: The involvement of private sector in procurement will help improve the process and infrastructure of procurement.

 

Conclusion

Food security depends on whether farming remains a remunerative activity for the future. The Centre’s age-old procurement and MSP system needs a relook because of its many shortcomings. Research by NITI Aayog and other research outfits has shown that the reach of the current MSP procurement system is very poor both in terms of geography and the crops covered.

Despite thousands of crores of public money being spent in MSP operations every year, the farm crisis continues. If implemented well, the new system may help revive the rural economy by assuring better income to farmers. Unlike the current system where farmers repeatedly go for the few crops, such as paddy, wheat and sugarcane, where MSP is effective, the new scheme may ensure crop diversification and reduce the stress on soil and water.

 

 

 

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