Karnataka has seen 821 farmer suicides between April 2016 and March 2017 and yet the state budget has come as a huge disappointment for farmers who were hoping for a loan waiver.
Although the loans were not waived, the Chief Minister announced a record Rs 10,845 crore allocation for agriculture, horticulture and allied sectors.
“This allocation is around 20% higher than the previous budget for the same sectors,” Siddaramaiah announced in the Assembly on Wednesday.
However, farmers’ associations remain unimpressed with the budgetary allocation and described the schemes as an “eyewash”.
“Look at the condition of farmers in our state. There is no water for drinking, let alone to grow crops. Since the past two years, many farmers have died because of crop failure and also because they could not repay their loans. We had expected a package to revive the farmers’ condition like additional funds for the crop insurance scheme,” said Gosal Barmappa, member of the Karnataka Farmers’ Association.
Reacting strongly to the populist budget, opposition BJP’s state President, BS Yeddyurappa, condemned the Congress government for announcing a “shoddy budget with no real benefit for farmers”.
“Siddaramaiah is just coming up with excuses and blaming the note ban for him not being able to waive the farmers’ loans. He had announced that a loan waiver was on the cards but he has not lived up to his promise,” Yeddyurappa said.
Siddaramaiah, in his budget speech had said that the state had faced severe financial constraints due to demonetisation.
However, in a first, the monetary incentives offered to farmers would be directly transferred to the farmer's account. “This is being done to promote the use of technology and the incentives will be offered for cultivation of paddy, pulses and oilseed, to reduce the cost of cultivation and increase production. A sum of Rs 100 crore has been allocated to give incentives,” Siddaramaiah had announced.
The Malnad region of Karnataka, known for its lush greenery and pleasant rainfall is also facing drought. The CM has offered to extend the Krishi Bhagya scheme in this area by allocating Rs 600 crore for the project.