Were Farm Schemes Truly A Success In Maharashtra? A Reality Check

With agricultural incomes drying up, new generation farmers are leaving their traditional occupation for other jobs.

Many farmers said they are unable to repay loans taken from banks.


Three days ago, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had made a grand claim at the launch of the BJP-Shiv Sena joint election campaign in western Maharashtra's Kolhapur district. "All central government schemes have been successfully implemented in our state," he said. "Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have given bank accounts to farmers and implemented various schemes."

Ground realities, however, may not agree with him.

Abbas Inamdar (66) is a sugarcane farmer, but his ramshackle hut has neither a gas connection nor a toilet. Worse, he suffered a loss of Rs 48,000 in the last two years due to declining sugarcane prices.

"We have money issues. There is a loan we can't repay, and the government is not helping. What can we do?" Mr Inamdar said. Recently, his two sons - both in their thirties - have taken up working as masons in a nearby village.

Ahmad Buran, a sugarcane farmer who lives in a two-room house with nine family members nearby, is nowhere close to repaying his Rs 4-lakh loan. He has stopped sending his sons to college in order to save Rs 35,000 in fees, and now he is worried about getting them married off.

"How can their weddings happen when we don't even have a proper place to stay? Who would want to give their daughters to them? They have no money, no education, no jobs," Mr Buran told NDTV.

With agricultural incomes drying up, new generation farmers are leaving their traditional occupation for other jobs - low paying as they may be. Take Amit Dhavale, for instance, who works at a construction site for Rs 300 a day despite holding a diploma in engineering. "We don't earn as much money even after toiling hard in the farms... we can't even provide good education to kids or manage livelihood... inflation has gone up as well," he lamented.

Sugarcane farmers, for their part, claim that they are still not receiving the "fair and remunerative" prices fixed for their crop by the government. "We are still facing problems with sugarcane mills. Farmers are protesting but the government is silent," said Raju Shetti, a farmer leader who left the National Democratic Alliance to join the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition in 2017.

The Shiv Sena and the BJP confirmed their alliance on February 18, after years of bickering with each other. The two parties will be facing off against the Congress-NCP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, to be held in seven phases between April 11 and May 19. The results will be declared on May 23.