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Agriculture Ministry makes U-turn on demonetisation impact on farm sector

Agriculture Ministry makes U-turn on demonetisation impact on farm sector

New Delhi: The Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday made a U-turn on its earlier assessment on the adverse impact of demonetisation on the farm sector by giving a revised note to a parliamentary panel.

The Ministry had in its report to the Standing Committee of Finance had said last week that many farmers were unable to buy fertiliser and seeds for winter-sown crops due to demonetiation of high value currency in November 2016.

The ministry on Tuesday told the committee the exact opposite of its earlier version, a member said, requesting anonymity.

Official sources said the earlier report was based on the statement of the Chairman of the National Seeds Corporation which did not take into account seed distribution by various other channels. They said the higher farm output in 2016-17 and 2017-18 showed that demonetisation did not hurt farmers.

The committee member quoted the ministry as saying that demonetisation actually benefited farmers in purchasing seeds and fertliser and caused the farm area under sowing to increase, the member said.

The development came in the midst of the assembly election in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is facing strong anti-incumbency on account of various factors, including the agrarian distress and the adverse effects of demonetisation.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi had on November 21 targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “making fun of our farmers’ misfortune” following the reports of the Agriculture Ministry admitting that millions of farmers were unable to buy seeds and fertilizers because of demonetisation.

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