From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Rythu Bandhu
Mains level : Paper 3- PM-KISAN and issues
The article highlights the challenge of exclusion error in the PM-KISAN and suggests measures to deal with the issue by drawing on the success of KALIA and Rythu Bandhu.
Exclusion in PM-KISAN
- Budget FY22 announced an allocation of Rs 65,000 crore to the PM-Kisan scheme.
- Since 2019, the PM-Kisan has been the largest component of the agriculture budget each year.
- The scheme is targeted at farmers who own cultivable land as per land records of the state.
- Unfortunately, this leaves out vulnerable sections such as tenant farmers, women farmers, tribal families and landless labourers.
- The exclusion is the result of the challenge of first identifying these people, since our existing systems do not formally recognise them as farmers.
The need to identify farmers
- Despite 73.2% of rural women engaging in agriculture, only 12.8% are reported to own land.
- Among tribal communities, of the 20 million tribal families, less than 2 million have received individual forest rights pattas; the rest are ‘invisible’ and left out of government safety nets.
- Landless agricultural labourers and tenant farmers account for close to 150 million people in rural India, and they too are not part of state land records.
- Although there are multiple welfare schemes for farmers, there is no standard government definition of a farmer.
- The 2007 MS Swaminathan Committee called out that the term ‘farmer’ would include any person actively engaged in growing crops and other agricultural commodities, and would include not only landholders, but also cultivators, labourers, sharecroppers, tenants and tribal families, amongst others.
Learning from KALIA and Rythu Bandhu
- Odisha has been a frontrunner in implementing an inclusive farmer welfare scheme, the KALIA.
- The KALIA provides an unconditional income support of Rs 12,500 to landless agricultural households and an annual Rs 10,000 to small and marginal land-owning farmers as well as tenant farmers.
- Odisha leveraged existing databases such as the Paddy Procurement Automation System, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and the National Food Security Act, and deployed close to 50,000 government staff at state, district and block levels to conduct extensive on-ground verification to identify eligible beneficiaries.
- Telangana took a different approach prior to rolling out the Rythu Bandhu Scheme, a direct benefit transfer scheme for land-owning farmers.
- The Rythu Bandhu Scheme targeted only land-owning farmers.
- But the state took on the onus of updating land records before implementing the scheme.
- The revenue and agriculture departments partnered to undertake a state-wide Land Records Updation Programme (LRUP).
- This shows that updating and digitising land records databasse is possible with focused efforts.
- Instead of every scheme having its own farmer beneficiary database, the ideal solution would be to leverage the existing land records databases in every state.
- The design should ensure women’s names are not excluded.
- Implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 needs to be accelerated so that tribal families receive forest rights pattas and become part of the land records database.
- The next challenge is to build in incentives in the process to encourage the maintenance of the land record database, such that all future transactions such as sale, gift etc. are regularly updated to increase the reliability of the records.
Consider the question “How lack of definition of farmer leads to inclusion and exclusion errors in the schemes for farmers. Suggest the measures to deal with the issue.”
The pandemic, more so than anything else, has highlighted the need for the government to have robust social security mechanisms to reach the most vulnerable sections of the population, and making PM-Kisan more inclusive is an important step in that direction.