The central government would have to bear the annual cost of Rs 3.84 lakh crore to implement the Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan (PM-Aasha) scheme, a study conducted by the Delhi-based Institute of Economic Growth estimated. The study was commissioned by the Union Agriculture Ministry.
The Modi government rolled out this scheme in September 2018 with a promise to provide 50 percent returns over cost of production to farmers either through procurement by government agencies or through price deficiency support, where crops will be purchased by private parties.
The food subsidy budget for 2019-20, in the interim budget presented on 1 February 2019, was estimated at Rs 1.84 lakh crore.
However, the procurement of pulses and oilseeds by NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India) in kharif 2018, which is post the Aasha scheme, was 6 percent of the total output, lower than 8.5 percent procurement made in kharif 2017.
The PM Aasha scheme was proposed to help plug the loopholes in the procurement system and address the gaps in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) scheme and revolutionalise the procurement system. It promises to provide assured prices to farmers and save them from making distressed sales during a large harvest.