Few farmers got State benefits during COVID-19 lockdown, says Prakash Kammaradi

Referring to an independent study done under his leadership on farmers during the COVID-19 lockdown, T.N. Prakash Kammaradi, an agriculture economist and the former chairperson of Karnataka Agricultural Prices Commission, said that only 17% of farmers had received the compensation for crop losses and just 16% could avail the benefits of procurement during the first lockdown period.

He added that in spite of low enrolment of just 44%, the benefit that occurred from the crop insurance during the crucial lockdown period was a meagre 20%.

Interacting with presspersons in Kalaburagi on Thursday, Mr. Kammaradi said that a list of around 5,000 farmers with mobile connections from all districts and taluks was obtained for the study. Of them, 1,500 were randomly selected for the interview and 1,285 had responded.

He added that the study covered the period from March 2020, when the first lockdown was imposed, to April 2021.

“The Union Government had assured the farmers of providing them work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act during the lockdown. But, it failed to keep its word. The farmers, especially the small and marginal ones and farm labourers, did not get enough work during the lockdown. Only a few farmers got the benefits of PM-Kisan Yojna and PDS schemes. Around 54% of the respondents held that the Governments did not give adequate importance to the farm sector as compared to other sectors. An overwhelming majority of the farmers, about 84%, said that COVID-19 had adversely affected their life security and health,” Mr. Kammaradi said, adding that around 55% of the respondents expressed their dissatisfaction over the way that Governments handled the pandemic.

To a question, Mr. Kammaradi said that the report, Can You Hear the Voice of Farmers?, was, along with a few recommendations, already submitted to the Government.

“Five farm legislations – three from the Union Government and two from the State government – have had an adverse impact on the farmers. About 66% of the respondents had clearly said that they had asked for good price for their crops and not the farm laws. That is why we had recommended that the Government withdraw the controversial laws,” Mr. Kammaradi said.

Another important finding is, Mr. Kammaradi added, that around 30% of the respondents had expressed their desire to quit agriculture if they find an alternative livelihood.

Congress leader and former MLA B.R. Patil, and activists, Ganesh R Patil and Gurushanth Patil were present.

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