The Kerala Assembly passed the Kerala Farmers Welfare Fund Bill, 2018 on Thursday, November 21. The Bill aims to ensure pension and financial support to the farmers in the state by setting up a Farmers Welfare Board.
The Bill was presented in the Assembly by Agricultural Minister V S Sunil Kumar on December 13, 2018. After multiple rounds of discussions by a select committee of 15 members, it was passed in the Assembly with amendments on Thursday. The minister, in a statement, also highlighted that such a welfare board is a first for the country.
“No other state in the country has passed a similar law which focuses on the farmers’ welfare. Through this law, a welfare board solely for farmers will be set up in Kerala, for the first time in the country,” Kumar said in a statement on Facebook(in Malayalam).
The minister also said that the Welfare Board would be set up within three to six months.
“We are trying to give a comprehensive support package to the farmers in the state. Apart from traditional farmers, plantations and farms will also be under this scheme. We have kept an annual income of Rs 5 lakh as the maximum limit to be part of this scheme. Now that the bill has been passed, we hope to setup the board between three to six months,” Kumar was quoted in India Today.
What Does The Bill Offer?
Kumar said that the primary focus of the Bill is to offer attractive financial benefits and monthly pension to the farmers. “Farmers who are dependent on weather conditions are often faced with a crisis owing to climate change. In such scenarios, farmers who lose their cultivation should be financially backed to motivate them to continue farming,” Kumar added in his post.
As per the Bill, a Farmers Welfare Board will be set up in the state to improve the quality of life of the farmers by ensuring a monthly pension.
The Bill also offers aids for the marriage, education and maternity of the female farmers or daughters of registered farmers. Compensation will also be provided if the farmer or his family members suffer a loss of life, accident, wildlife attack or poisoning while involved in agriculture.
Who Is Eligible For The Pension?
Any farmer of 18 years of age and above can become part of the scheme. All farmers with a minimum of five cents of land to a maximum of 15 acres of own or leased land will receive the pension, provided that their annual income is not more than 5 lakh. Also, the farmers should have been in the agricultural field for at least three years and should not be part of any other welfare projects.
To avail the benefits, each farmer will have to contribute a minimum of Rs 100 per month to the scheme. The government will also contribute the same amount or a maximum of Rs 250 for each farmer. Every farmer who makes the contribution for a minimum of five years will receive the pension when they turn 60. Those who have made contributions for 25 years will get a one-time fixed amount.
All types of farmers will be included in the Bill. Farmers involved in gardening, medicinal plants, nursery, fruit trees, and vegetables, as well as farmers involved in breeding fish, ornamental fish, honey bee, silkworm, poultry, duck, goat, rabbit, cattle, and pig, will also be included. Farmers with less than 7.5 acres of rubber, coffee, tea, and cardamom plantations can also be part of the scheme.