Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh’s (RSS) farmers’ group, criticised the Centre’s export and import policies. The BKS urged the government to frame long-term export and import policies that are in the interests of farmers.
The BKS, which held a meeting of its all India managing committee in Raipur last week, said it’s being seen in the last few years that whenever a crop is on the verge of harvest, the Ministry of Commerce orders its import. The BKS also said that the Ministry either reduced or even waived off import duty, which further adversely impacts farmers, especially growers of onions, edible oils, and pulses.
“Similarly, whenever there is additional production of any crop, the government simultaneously imposes a sudden ban on export. This has been observed time and again, particularly in the case of wheat, sugar and onion. By doing so, the Ministry of Commerce not only causes a direct loss to farmers’ but keeps national interest also at stake. Because, in the event of import, foreign exchange is spent unnecessarily,” the BKS said.
The farmers’ body added that due to poor policies, market prices of crops fall and farmers don’t sow the crop in the next season. This leads to low production and increases the country’s dependence on imports. “Same happens when there is an additional production. That must be exported but due to arbitrary conduct of the Ministry of Commerce, farmers have to face huge losses,” office-bearers of the organisation said.
The BKS said that the estimated and actual figures on the area under cultivation and the production of all crops is available with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. “But the Ministry of Commerce finds it disgraceful to take these data/figures from the Agriculture Ministry. As a result, import and export are either allowed or banned without any valid reason. It makes us believe that this type of malicious act is specifically aimed to harm farmers’ interests, which is also not in agreement with the farmer-friendly policies of the Central government,” the BKS said.
As part of its suggestions, the BKS committee proposed that the Ministry of Commerce should frame a far-sighted plan in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture so as to ascertain there’s enough production of items being imported and the country becomes self-reliant, which would have a significant bearing, especially on the production of edible oils and pulses. For this, special incentives should be given for growing edible oilseed crops, the BKS said.
“The quantum of export or import must be based on the data/records provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare and there must be a clear-cut provision in the policy to determine the required quantity of import. Apart from this, free export of additional (surplus) quantity of produce should be allowed. Policy to this effect should be framed,” the BKS said.
It also demanded that there must be provision for an export subsidy, so that, in a situation where prices of any item are low in the country of import, and there’s regular demand, then India may become a major exporter of that item. In any eventuality of imports and exports, the responsibility of the designated officials/group of officials must be fixed, the BKS further said.
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