Budget 2023 | SKM, activists criticise allocations to agriculture, food security

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella organisation of more than 300 farmers’ outfits and the Right to Food Campaign, a platform for activists working on food and nutritional security, termed the Budget as an attack on farmers and the poor. They said in separate statements that the allocations for the agriculture sector and food subsidy had been reduced considerably in the Budget, presented in the Parliament on Wednesday.

The SKM, expressing shock and bewilderment at the Union Budget, said it had expected the Centre to appreciate the importance of the farm sector with the need to secure income and future of the rural farming community. “Instead, the Union Budget 2023 is the most anti-farmer Budget in the history of the nation,” they said

The Budget was silent on doubling farmers’ income, the SKM said adding that the Centre “dishonestly stopped” giving data on the income of farmers and out of the targeted increase in the income of ₹13,000, only ₹4,400 had been achieved, that is only one-third of the target, the SKM said.

The grant for PM Kisan Samman Nidhi had been reduced, they said and alleged that the number of beneficiaries had been steadily declining and now the portal had stopped displaying real-time beneficiary data. “At a time of deep economic distress, this scheme gave some relief to farmers but now even that is being constricted,” the SKM said.

The Right to Food Campaign said it was shocked to see that the Budget reduced the government spending on the social sector to a huge extent. “The negative impact of the economic crisis that began even before the pandemic, has fallen disproportionately on those at the bottom of the pyramid,” the platform noted. The activists said with the discontinuation of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) from January 1, 2023, the ration entitlement of the people was halved.

“Women and children of the country have once again been ignored even when they have been most affected by the pandemic and the continued economic severity. The allocations for S amarthya (including maternity entitlements), and PM POSHAN (mid-day meals) have reduced considerably this year as well,” they said.

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