The Ministry of Agriculture has withdrawn a report that said demonetisation affected millions of farmers in the country. The ministry cited a “compilation error” to justify the withdrawal and submitted a new report that says farmers did not face any “adverse impact” as a result of the note ban in 2016, The Hindu reported on Tuesday.
Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that two directors and a joint secretary in the ministry have been issued showcause notices for submitting the earlier report. He claimed he had not vetted the report before it was submitted as he was about to travel abroad and did not have time.
In the earlier report, which was submitted to the parliamentary panel on November 20, the ministry had said millions of farmers were unable to buy seeds and fertilisers for winter crops because of the Narendra Modi government’s decision to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes. At the time, farmers were either selling kharif crops – harvested around October and November – or sowing rabi crops, which is done around mid-November.
The latest report, however, claims that the the farm sector saw an “encouraging growth” in the inflow of agriculture credit, distribution of seeds, coverage of major rabi crops and crop production compared to previous years, India Today reported.
“This indicates that the measures taken by the government ensured no adverse impact on the agriculture sector,” it says, adding that demonetisation “brought more formalisation in the agriculture sector” and it was “beneficial to farmers”.
The parliamentary committee’s chief, Congress MP Veerappa Moily, and other members criticised the ministry. “It is very unusual for the ministry to replace a report it has submitted,” said an unidentified Opposition leader. “It looks like there was pressure from certain quarters on the ministry.”