Rajasthan: Farmers in Distress as Reimbursement Delays Compound Sowing Season Challenges In Udaipur

The samples of PROM collected for distribution failed laboratory tests, leading to a halt in the reimbursement process.
Rajasthan: Farmers in Distress as Reimbursement Delays Compound Sowing Season Challenges In Udaipur

Udaipur— The sowing season has arrived, with farmers eagerly preparing their fields for planting. However, amidst the bustling activity, a sense of anxiety and frustration lingers among the farming community. The delay in the reimbursement of funds from the Phosphate Rich Organic Manure (PROM) scheme has left hundreds of farmers struggling to secure the necessary agricultural inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers. As the financial burden mounts, their pain and desperation become palpable, underscoring the urgent need for resolution and support.

As the sowing season gains momentum, farmers find themselves grappling with the challenging task of arranging funds for essential agricultural inputs. The cost of seeds and fertilizers poses a significant financial burden, especially for marginalized farmers with limited resources. Many farmers rely on loans or savings to procure these inputs, striving to ensure a successful harvest that sustains their livelihoods.

Farmers Betrayed by Failed Organic Farming Scheme

Under the PROM scheme, which was initiated in 2019-20, over 300 farmers in Udaipur district eagerly participated with hopes of benefiting from grants to support their agricultural endeavors. They were provided 4-4 bags each ( 50 kg/ bag) which was priced at 625 Rs/bag. Each farmer had to contribute Rs 2500 initially and with 100 percent subsidy, the full amount was to be reimbursed by the government later. Farmers paid the money trusting that the amount would be returned as a 100 percent grant. Unfortunately, even after 3 years, the farmers are yet to get the amount.

Adding to their frustration, the samples of PROM collected for distribution failed laboratory tests, leading to a halt in the reimbursement process. As a result, the farmers find themselves entangled in a bureaucratic maze, desperately seeking answers and the return of their invested money. The lack of transparency and accountability within the Agricultural Department further exacerbates the farmers' plight, eroding their trust in the system.

Meanwhile, officials assert that a significant portion of the farmers who purchased the PROM bags were progressive farmers with prior experience in participating in departmental schemes. These farmers, known for their keen interest in such programs, are well aware of the delays often associated with government procedures and hence it is not a big concern for them.

Madho Singh Champawat, Joint Director of Agriculture Extension at Zila Parishad Udaipur, assures that this matter will be resolved promptly, and 100 percent of the grant amount will be returned to the farmers. However, with the passage of time, the farmers' trust in the system has been shaken, and they are left to bear the burden of mounting financial pressure.

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Marginalized Farmers Bear the Burden of Unaffordable Inputs

The agricultural community in Udaipur district, primarily comprise of marginalized farmers, is already burdened by limited financial resources. As the sowing season approaches, these farmers face the daunting task of procuring seeds and fertilizers, essential for their crops' success.

Speaking to The Mooknayak, Reva Shankar, a cultivator explains, "the cost of seeds alone can range from Rs 150 to Rs 200 per kilogram, making it unaffordable for many farmers. To cope, some farmers resort to using grain from previous harvests, stockpiling it for the upcoming sowing season. However, this compromises the quality and productivity of their crops. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that many farmers have small farms and lack the necessary capital to invest in fertilizers or even high-quality seeds."

Delay doesnt means denial, says Agriculture officer

According to a senior agriculture officer, who prefers to remain anonymous, the responsibility of implementing schemes lies with the officials at the ground level. They act as intermediaries between the government and the farmers, working alongside observers and supervisors to ensure the smooth execution of programs. In the case of the PROM scheme, which aimed to provide farmers with an organic alternative to chemical fertilizers, bags of PROM were distributed to the farmers.

Unfortunately, the samples of PROM collected for testing did not meet the required standards, leading to a delay in the reimbursement process. The senior agriculture officer acknowledges that government procedures can be time-consuming, and it is difficult to predict how long it will take for the second round of sampling or what specific processes will be involved. However, the officer assures that regardless of the delay, the farmers will eventually receive their due reimbursement.

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Need for Government Support in Agricultural Input Affordability

The Mooknayak spoke to Dr. Narayan Singh Solanki, agronomy expert from the Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology. Dr Solanki said PROM holds promise as a substitute for chemical fertilizers. However, its availability and affordability is a significant concern for farmers. Most farmers do not have the financial means to invest in expensive hybrid crops or fertilizers, including PROM.

Dr. Solanki highlights the importance of DAP (Di-Ammonium Phosphate) fertilizer, which is commonly used in large quantities by farmers. DAP provides the essential nutrients of phosphorus and nitrogen, crucial for maintaining soil fertility and achieving good yields. However, the cost of DAP, along with other necessary inputs such as seeds, poses a substantial financial burden on farmers during the sowing season.

A rough estimate suggests that a small scale farmer may need to spend a minimum of Rs 5000 on seeds and fertilizers alone to ensure a successful crop yield. This amount is often beyond the means of small and marginalized farmers in Udaipur district.

Dr. Solanki emphasizes the need for government intervention to support farmers in obtaining affordable and essential agricultural inputs. Measures should be taken to alleviate the financial strain on farmers, enabling them to access high-quality seeds and fertilizers necessary for achieving good yields. Government subsidies and assistance programs can play a crucial role in helping farmers overcome the affordability barrier and improve their overall agricultural productivity.

While the farmers' patience and understanding are commendable, it is crucial for the government to recognize the importance of honoring commitments and delivering on promises. By addressing the delays and ensuring transparent and efficient procedures, the government can uphold the trust of progressive farmers and encourage broader participation in future agricultural schemes.

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