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Union budget 2019-20: 'Ritualistic' reporting of 30% gender component in all schemes

By Nesar Ahmad, Mahendra Singh Rao*
The agriculture sector in India contributes 16% of GDP and employs 49% of the total workforce of the country. Public expenditure towards the agriculture sector has been poor; however, the Union government has promised the farmers' income would be doubled by 2022.
The role of women in agriculture is critical. As per Census 2011, out of total female main workers, 55% were agricultural labourers and 24% were cultivators. However, women own only 12.08% of all operational holdings (Agricultural Census 2011-12).
The Economic Survey, 207-18 emphasized the need for “policy for women farmers”. Some of the policy suggestions made by the Economic Survey 2017-18 are as follow:
  1. Earmarking at least 30 per cent of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes/ programmes and development activities.
  2. Initiating women centric activities to ensure benefits of various beneficiary-oriented programs/schemes reach them
  3. Focusing on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit through capacity building activities and to provide information and ensuring their representation in different decision-making bodies.
Moreover, the Economic Survey highlights the need of recognizing women as farmers. But this is not reflected in the budgets presented by the Union government.

Budget for the agriculture sector

Let us first take a look at the status of agriculture in the budget this year. The Finance Minister (FM) in her first budget speech said, “We will invest widely in agricultural infrastructure”. However, the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare (MoA&FW) does not show much of increase in this.
The total allocation for the MoA&FW is Rs 1,40,764 crore for 2019-20 budget estimate (BE), which is increased of nearly 78.1% from the previous year 2018-19 revised estimate (RE), Rs 79,026 crore.
However, this increase is mainly due to higher allocation (Rs 75,000 crore) for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan), which was launched in the interim budget for 2019-20 presented by the government in February this year. If we exclude this amount, the budget for MoA&FW will be less than previous year’s revised estimates (click HERE for the table).
Beside, Rs 8245.25 crore has been allocated to the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, which comes under the newly-created Ministry of Jal Shakti. This allocation is an increase by only about 8.3% over the previous year (2018-19) RE.

Allocation under major schemes of agriculture sector

If we look the scheme-wise allocation for major schemes of agriculture sector, major increase is seen for the schemes like the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), the Interest Subvention for Providing Short Term Credit to Farmers, Price Stabilization Fund in the Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana under  MoA&FW.
On the other side, budget allocation is decreased for the scheme like White Revolution, Har Khet ko Pani etc., and there no allocation for the National Mission on Oil Seed and Oil Palm (NMOOP).
Now let us have a look at the allocation made to the major schemes in the agriculture sector (click HERE for table).
Whether research in home science is beneficial to women farmers or is actually something which reinforces the gender stereotypes and inequality is something one should look into
Though there is an increase in the budget for most of major schemes, allocations for NMOOP have now been merged with NFSM, the budget for which shows about 32% of increase. But if we add the budget for NFSM and NMOOP for the previous year, the increase is not so impressive.
There is a decline in budget for White Revolution (cotton) and there is not much increase in budget for Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY). The FM announced Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) for a focused fisheries management framework. However, the allocation for Blue Revolution remains lower than the last year’s budget estimates and has shown an increase of only about 8% from last years revised estimate.

Women and agriculture in budget

If we look at this year’s budget from the perspective of women farmers and in light of the above-mentioned policy measures suggested by the Economic Survey 2017-18, we do not get a very optimistic picture.
The FM did not say much about the women farmers in her budget speech. She talked about role of women in the economy, especially in the rural economy and said the government is going to form a committee to review the gender responsive budget as being presented now.
The FM announced a new scheme, PMMSY, for a focused development of fishery sector, which employs significant percentage of women. She also announced that every member of women SHGs who has a Jan Dhan account will be entitled to Rs. 5,000 over draft, which can benefit the women farmers as well.

Status of gender budget in agriculture sector

As we know, the government has been presenting a Gender Budget Statement (GBS) in the name of Gender Responsive Budget for more than a decade now. GBS provides a the list of schemes under each Ministry/Department and in which either all the budget is going towards women (Part A of the GBS) or at least 30% of the budget of the scheme is going towards women beneficiaries (Part B of GBS).
The GRB process is promoted and monitored by the Minister of Women and Child Development (MoW&CD) and all the ministries/departments are supposed to have a Gender Budget Cell which should guide the ministry/department on how to make their policies, programmes and budget more gender sensitive. As mentioned above, the FM has announced to set up a committee to review the GRB/GBS process in the country.
The annual report of the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmer Welfare informs that the department has a Gender Budget Cell and also a National Gender Resource Centre under the Sub-Mission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE). Budget for SMAE, however, declined from Rs. 1020 crore in last year’s budget estimates to Rs 950 crore this year. In previous year, the revised estimate shows a huge decline from Rs 1,020 crore to Rs 875 crore in the revised estimates.
Now if we turn to the GBS of the MoA&FW, there are only two schemes reported by the ministry in the Part A of GBS and both are under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education. Neither of two main departments, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare and the Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, has any women specific programme.
One of the 100% women specific allocations under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education is going towards the Central Institute for Women in Agriculture, located in Bhubneswar, and the other is going towards a research project on home science, again in Bhubneswar.
Now, whether research in home science is beneficial to women farmers or is actually something which reinforces the gender stereotypes and inequality is something one should look into.
However, this year in Part B, there are two schemes of Department of Dairy Development and Fisheries of which 100% allocation has been reported as gender component. These schemes are Blue Revolution (for fishery development) and Diary Entrepreneurship Development. But then, why these two schemes are not show in Part A is a mystery (click HERE for table).
Since last year the government is also providing revised estimates and actual expenditure made under the schemes listed in Part A of GBS. But the actual expenditure under both the schemes listed in Part A has been much lower than the budget estimate during the year 2017-18. In 2018-19 as well, the revised estimate for the All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Home Science, Bhubneshwar, is lower than BE.
Now, looking at Part B of the GBS of MoA&FW: Fourteen schemes of the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare are listed here, and in all of them the gender component, i.e. budget going towards women, is shown to be 30% (click HERE for table).
This year three schemes of Department of Dairy Development and Fisheries are also listed in the Part B of GBS. Two of those schemes, as mentioned above, are showing 100% allocation towards women, and should be listed in Part A. The third in the list is the National Livestock Mission in which 79% allocation has been reported as gender component.
The government must come out with realistic figures based on concrete data on women farmer beneficiaries
The ritualistic reporting of 30% as gender component in almost all the schemes reported in Part B indicates towards a notional or nominal reporting without any particular basis. The MoA&FW must come out with realistic figures based on concrete data on women farmer beneficiaries of these schemes.
Additionally, since Part B of GBS only provides budget estimate and no revised estimates and actually expenditure figures, as it has started giving for the schemes in Part A of GBS, it is also not known that how much of these allocations shown as gender component are actually being spent.
Also, the important Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, or even the newly created Ministry of Jal Shakti, of which this department is now a part, does not report any of their schemes in either Part A or Part B of GBS, showing their schemes for irrigation and other purposes in water sector have no gender concerns at all.

Conclusions

The Union budget 2019-20, which is first budget of the second tenure of the Modi government, does not sound very promising the millions of women farmers. The budget speech does not even mention women farmers, there are no specific programmes announced for women farmers except for one in fisheries sector.
The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman, under which farmers are to be given a support of Rs 6,000 (announced in the interim budget before the general election), is also linked to landownership and is therefore not likely to benefit majority of women farmers who do not own land.
The gender budget statement of ministry is mechanically report 30% gender component in almost all the schemes listed in Part B of GBS, and the two schemes in which 100% allocation is going towards women are not able to utilize the allocated budget fully.
This year two more schemes have been reported to be having 100% gender component but these are reported in Part B instead of Part A. We hope that next year onwards these two schemes are also reported in Part A and their revised estimates and actual expenditure are also reported.
We also hope that the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, which is important department for the agriculture sector, also devices women centric programmes and thinks ways of benefiting women farmers.
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*With Mahila Adhikaar Kisan Manch

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