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Posted On : 17 Mar, 2017  Source : PTI  Place : New Delhi 
No direct link between noteban and agri prices: Minister
There is no "direct link" between demonetisation and the prices of agricultural commodities, the government said today.

"There is no direct link between demonetisation and the prices of agricultural commodities," Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said in Rajya Sabha, adding that the government took a number of steps to provide relief to farmers after the noteban.

Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, he said the selling prices are governed by market forces of demand and supply, quality of produce and seasonality.

Official data earlier this week has shown that wholesale inflation soared to a 39-month high of 6.55 per cent in February from 5.25 per cent in January, while retail inflation rose to 3.65 per cent due to rise in food and fuel prices from 3.17 per cent in the previous month.

Singh said the capping imposed on compensation to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY) have been removed and farmers can now get compensation even 14 days after the crops are reaped, to help make the scheme attractive.

The Minister said the Centre has asked the state governments to cover more and more farmers under the PMFBY from the current levvel of 30 per cent.

"We want to take it to 40 to 50 per cent of farmers in the country and we should together with state governments work towards achieving the target and popularise the PMFBY to help cover all farmers and give them protection of their crops," he said in the House.

Singh said the government has taken several relief measures for farmers after demonetisation including provision of additional grace period of 60 days for prompt repayment incentive to such farmers who took crop loans.

He also said the government granted interest waiver for two months for all short-term crop loans availed from cooperative banks and an additional resource of Rs 660.50 crore was made available during current financial year.

He also said the government allowed farmers to use old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 for making payments for purchase of seeds and fertilisers, besides organising training camps for using digital payments and extension of cut-off date for submission of premium proposal for cash crops under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna.

Besides, the Minister said, the RBI and commercial banks were advised to make the required cash available to district central cooperative banks to ensure quick flow of credit and required cash to farmers during the current Rabi season and prioritise the availability of adequate legal currency to meet their cash requirement.

States were also advised to ensure ready availability of fertilisers at their level to the farmers.

'Some states gave less time to farmers to get PMFBY benefit'

A union minister today blamed some states for giving less time to farmers to avail the benefits under the 'Pradhan Mantri Bima Fasal Yojya', forcing the Centre to extend the scheme for another ten days.

Stating this while replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said some states had issued a notification on the scheme just two days before it was to end.

"Some state governments gave less time to farmers to avail the benefits of 'Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna' (PMFBY) so that there is less financial burden on them. But there is more pressure from farmers and state governments are forced to respond accordingly.

"Last time some states have issued notification two days before the scheme ends. This forced us to extend the scheme for 10 days," he told the members.

Singh said it is the responsibility of state governments to ensure that more and more farmers take the benefit of the PMFBY and hence issue the notification in advance. "We have asked state governments to declare in advance which insurance company should cater to which area," he added.

The Minister said the PMFBY was made attractive for farmers and, after changes, 3.80 crore farmers have availaed benefits under it last year against 3.09 crore earlier. Of these, he said, there are 1.25 lakh such farmers who did not take loans but still availed benefits under the scheme.

In a written reply, Singh said, "Perennial/horticulture crops like apple, cardamom are not covered under PMFBY due to non-availability of statistically reliable methodology for assessment of yield of these crops."

He said inclusion of perennial/horticultural crops under yield-based crop insurance schemes was examined by a Committee constituted by the department in 2002 and few pilots were carried out but they were not successful.

To another supplementary, the Minister said crops and areas under various schemes is notified by the concerned state/UT governments.

Singh said the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna is a yield based scheme and envisages coverage of food and oilseeds crops and annual commercial/horticultural crops for which yield data is available for sufficient number of years.

State governments have the capacity to conduct requisite number of crop cutting experiments to assess the yield loss.