Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA) 

The Union Cabinet has approved a new Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA).  The Scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018.

Components of PM-AASHA:

The new Umbrella Scheme includes the mechanism of ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers and is comprised of:

  • Price Support Scheme (PSS) – Here, physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds and copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies. Besides NAFED, Food Cooperation of India will also take up procurement of crops under PSS. The expenditure and losses due to procurement will be borne by the Centre.
  • Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS) – Under this, the Centre proposes to cover all oilseeds and pay the farmer directly into his bank account the difference between the MSP and his actual selling/modal price. Farmers who sell their crops in recognised mandis within the notified period can benefit from it.
  • Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS) – In the case of oilseeds, States will have the option to roll out PPSSs in select districts where a private player can procure crops at MSP when market prices drop below MSP. The private player will then be compensated through a service charge that will be up to a maximum of 15 per cent of the MSP of the crop.

The other existing schemes of Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD) for procurement of paddy, wheat and nutri-cereals/coarse grains and of Ministry of Textile for cotton and jute will be continued for providing MSP to farmers for these crops.

How will the scheme benefit the farmers?

The AASHA scheme tries to address the gaps in the MSP system and give better returns to farmers. It also promises to plug the holes in the procurement system through PDP. If effectively implemented, the scheme will result in savings for the Centre. In the current physical procurement, government agencies end up stock-piling foodgrains, incurring storage costs and significant wastage and leakages as well.

If implemented well, the new system may help revive the rural economy by assuring better income to farmers. Unlike the current system where farmers repeatedly go for the few crops, such as paddy, wheat and sugarcane, where MSP is effective, the new scheme may ensure crop diversification and reduce the stress on soil and water.

Way ahead:

The existing Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) should be renamed ‘Commission for Farmers Income and Welfare’ with a mandate to work out the minimum living income for a farming family, and to spell out means to provide it.

There is a need for a course correction in the way MSP is provided. The government should continue to procure wheat from farmers at MSP, which will eventually determine the retail price. But to ensure that farmers are given 50 per cent profit over ‘C2’ (which includes land rentals), it should directly transfer the profit over the MSP to their Jan Dhan accounts. Income support can be provided by clubbing existing schemes with new approaches.

Sources: PIB, The Hindu Business Line, The Hindu Business Line

Categories: POINT IAS

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