Amid growing debate on whether farm loan waiver reaches the people at the bottom of the rung, the sharecroppers and landless labourers, the Odisha cabinet on Friday announced a Rs 10,180-crore Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (Kalia) scheme. Kalia, which is meant to address the prevalent situation, will cover 92% of cultivators of the state, according to CM Naveen Patnaik.
Terming the scheme as a direct attack on poverty, Naveen said, "It will further accelerate agricultural prosperity in the state and reduce poverty." Though the scheme did not have provision for farm loan waiver, the CM said, "All the small and marginal farmers of the state (over 30 lakh) will be covered under Kalia."
Under the scheme, named after Lord Jagannath, the government will provide financial assistance of 10,000 per family ( 5,000 each for Kharif and Rabi season) to small and marginal farmers for taking up cultivation.
Naveen said farm loan waiver may help only a section of the farmers. Explaining the rationale behind introducing the Kalia scheme, he said, "This component is not linked to the extent of land owned. It will greatly benefit sharecroppers and actual cultivators, most of whom own very small extent of land. This assistance is for five crop seasons spanning three years, from 2018-19 to 2021-22, so as to ensure comprehensive coverage."
Besides, the scheme also has a component for livelihood support for landless households. "Ten lakh landless households will be supported with a unit cost of Rs 12,500 to take up activities like goat rearing units, mini layer units, duckery units, fishery kits for fishermen and women, mushroom cultivation and bee keeping," the CM said. He said the landless households would have the option of selecting any of the units. Recommended By Colombia
The scheme also has provision to support vulnerable agriculture households that are not able to avail livelihood options due to old age, disability, disease or other reasons. The deserving families, identified by gram panchayats, will get annual financial assistance of Rs 10,000 per household to take care of their sustenance. The state government targets to cover about 10 lakh households under the scheme.
The scheme also promises life insurance cover of Rs 2 lakh and additional personal accident cover of Rs 2 lakh to around 57 lakh cultivators and landless agricultural labourers. Similarly, crop loans up to Rs 50,000 will henceforth be interest free.
State agriculture secretary Saurabh Garg said the scheme would be operational from the coming Rabi season and the benefits will be sent to the farmers through direct benefit transfer.
The Congress and the BJP, meanwhile, criticized the state government, saying the scheme was aimed at misleading the farmers ahead of elections. They said it won't help the farmers improve their financial condition.