MP Farmers Foreign Study Tours: Do Subsidised Trips Ensure Any 'Real' Help?
To deal with an agrarian crisis and farmer’s agitation like Mandasaur, State governments in India plan foreign trips to educate farmers on the best agricultural practices. Such programs are aimed to increase crop production by making Indian farmers aware of the latest technologies.
Under this initiative, farmers belonging from the General category are supposed to pay 50 percent of the tour cost whereas, farmers belonging from scheduled caste and scheduled tribe have to pay just 25 percent of the cost and the State Government funds rest.
However, small farmers are given 90 percent subsidy on their trips. This year, Madhya Pradesh Government is planning an excursion for four teams to study modern farming technologies in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Israel, and the Netherlands.
These four teams will have 20 members, and they will head on to their way in March. What needs to be noted that these farmers will land on some foreign land to learn modern trends in agriculture, dairy, food-processing, horticulture and animal husbandry.
Now, what the problematic part of this entire situation is that the names of various BJP MLAs, former MLAs, office bearers of Yuva Morcha and district presidents of various organisations have been included in the farmers’ list?
It seems that leaders of a party ruling at the centre are enjoying such Government-funded trips in the name of progressive farmers’ study tours.
Old Trend Of Sending Ruling Party’s Friends For Farmers Study Tour
Chief Minister of MP, Shivraj Singh Chauhan launched this program in 2013-14 with the intention of sending progressive farmers overseas to learn emerging agricultural techniques. However, since the beginning of this scheme, it was noted that only influential farmers who are friends with political leaders enjoy such trips.
In November 2016, Horticulture Minister Surya Prakash Meena’s son Devesh and nephew Randhir Singh and Mahindra Singh went as farmers to the Netherlands. Undoubtedly, if the very aim of this program would have been achieved since past years, then the State farmers would have been living a prosperous life.
The officers of the agriculture department started offering these ‘subsidy favours’ to leaders of the ruling party. DB Post, Bhopal reported, “The leaders only enjoy the overseas vacation and would not implement any of their learnings on these study tours after returning to Madhya Pradesh.”
Further, the expenses of such trips are generated by the Indian Parliamentarian Group and the State Government. The estimated expenditure per MLA is Rs 1.5-2 lakh. Also, an MLA’s spouse can be part of the group with the expenses paid for by the legislator.
According to the State data, agriculture growth rate is more than 20% since 2014-15 as it has earned the State Krishi Karman award from the Centre for several years in a row. Even an additional income of Rs 53747 crore to farmers was reported in 2016-17. In some areas, agricultural crisis due to natural calamities is so sharp that they left farmers with no money to pay off their huge debts.
As per the State Government, 1,982 farmers and farm labourers committed suicide between February 2016 and mid-February 2017. Former director of agriculture, GS Kaushal earlier said: “Such a trip by MLAs will not help the farmers of the State.”
In contrast, BJP legislator Omprakash Saklechaz said “Such a tour is undertaken every five years. It is true that farmers are facing certain problems, but it does not mean that we sit idle and stop other practices which could benefit the farmers.”
Bahujan Samaj Party MLA Sheela Tyagi said: “When Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan continued foreign trips why should not MLAs go abroad in the interest of the state.”
“Sending political leaders on such trips is a waste of public money as they use it for vacation purposes. In such a state where farmers have been shot dead by police for agitation, such insensitiveness is disgusting. Sadly, Chouhan is more concerned about the midriff of Padmavat rather than the empty stomach of poor farmers,” said Hemarghya Bal, a journalist at PTI who writes on the issues concerned to farmers.
The Logical Indian Take
As PM Narendra Modi once said, “There is no place for dark forces in digital space” then why State Governments are not using such means for the welfare of our Indian farmers. Also, Modi very well said at the fifth edition of the Global Conference on Cyber Space in New Delhi that Internet provided a level playing field to the less privileged and helped in knowing how his Government had utilised digital technology for efficient service delivery and governance.
In this interconnected world, farmers can be connected to foreign experts through digital devices that are available to everyone 24/7. As Internet has opened many areas for people to learn and gain as much knowledge. Such step could easily save not only the precious time of farmers and government but also crores of rupees invested in these programs, and instead, this amount could be used in waiving farmers’ agriculture loans that may result into no farmers’ suicide, therefore, the real growth of farmers.