Farmer. (File Photo: IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Bengaluru, Aug 15 : Even as Karnataka has been grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, the ruling BJP government has been wooing farmers with financial support to minimise the impact of the virus on their livelihood, an official said on Saturday.

"As farmers' welfare is the state's first and primary concern, about 50 lakh farmers are given Rs 4,000 in addition to Rs 6,000 assistance per annum by the central government under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, the official told IANS, quoting Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa's address in Kannada on the 74th Independence Day earlier in the day.

The state government has transferred Rs 2,000 as the first instalment in the bank accounts of the 50 lakh farmers across the state, collectively amounting to Rs 1,000 crore.

The state agriculture department has also given crop loan to about 10 lakh farmers to the tune of Rs 6,500 crore in the fiscal 2019-20.

"We have set a target of Rs 14,500 crore for disbursing in this fiscal (2020-21) as crop loan for all the eligible farmers across the state," asserted the official.

As 5.82 lakh farmers were in distress due to Covid-induced lockdown curbs affecting their produce and its marketing, the state government purchased green gram, tur dal (pulses), groundnut, chickpea (chana) and copra from them under the minimum support price (MSP) scheme at the cost of Rs 3,175 crore.

The state government has also recently amended the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMC) Act to enable farmers sell their crop for the best price even outside the APMCs.

"The APMC Act was amended to double the farmers' income, as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The new law will enable our farmers to sell their produce to whoever gives him the best price at the APMC yard or outside it in a free market," said the official.

Lakhs of farmers and growers of foodgrains, vegetables, fruits and flowers across the southern state suffered huge losses over the last 50 days, as they could not harvest or sell their produce due to the lockdown enforced suddenly on March 25 and extended twice till May 31 to contain the spread of coronavirus and suspension of public transport services.

Asserting that the ruling BJP government's motto was 'farmers first' the chief minister said the amended law would also enable farmers to sell their produce directly to any buyer inside or outside APMC yards for the best price as they deserve maximum remuneration for their crop.

"The amended Act will benefit farmers in improving their income and reduce losses due to market fluctuations. Our intention is to protect farmers from volatile market trends. It will help farmers in doubling their income by 2022, as wished by the prime minister," Yediyurappa reiterated.

The market cess, imposed on produce traded at agriculture marketing yards, has also been reduced to 0.35 per cent from 1.5 per cent to enable farmers to get better price for their produce and earn higher income.

Under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the state government has created 7.06 crore man days and paid wages up to Rs 1,856 crore since April 1. Job cards have also been given to 3.73 lakh families from April to July, achieving 53 per cent of its annual target in the first 4 months of fiscal 2020-21.

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