The Union Cabinet is expected to soon approve a relief package for farmers grappling with falling prices of their crops and to tackle distress in the farm sector, according to sources.
The likely relief package is seen as an attempt to assuage the farming community’s discontent ahead of the general elections.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet has deferred its meeting which was scheduled for Monday, as per sources.
The agriculture ministry has recommended several options to provide both short and long-term solutions to address agrarian distress. However, a final call will be taken in the Cabinet meeting as a huge cost is involved, they said.
One of the options proposed is waiving interest on crop loans for farmers who pay on time, costing an additional ?15,000 crore to the exchequer.
There is also a proposal to completely waive premium for taking insurance policy for food crops. The Centre is also evaluating the scheme followed by the Telangana and Odisha governments wherein a fixed amount is transferred directly into the bank account of farmers, the sources further said.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh had recently indicated that the government would announce an agriculture package before the 2019-20 budget. The NDA government will present an interim budget on February 1.
Experts said the government has less time to implement any new scheme. The measure has to be such that it can be implemented faster to reap the political gains during the elections.
It may be noted that the central government has taken farmers’ issues seriously after the ruling BJP was defeated in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the recent state polls, where rural distress was a key factor.
Farmers are in distress owing to fall in prices of most crops in view of bumper crop.