‘Centre has failed to consider the huge increase in input costs'

Farmers organisations have reacted with dismay to the Centre's decision to hike the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy by just Rs.170 a quintal for 2012-13 kharif season.

The government, they argued, has failed to take into account the crisis situation faced by the agriculture sector, the huge increase in the price of fertilizers over the past one year, the severe shortage of labour that has led to a steep hike in wages, and the rise in other input costs.

The Centre announced on Thursday an increase in the MSP for paddy by Rs.170 a quintal, from Rs.1080 to Rs.1,250 a quintal for common variety. The MSP for fine variety has been raised to Rs.1,280 from last's year price of Rs.1,110 a quintal.

“The hike is totally unsatisfactory, especially when compared to the increase in MSP for other commodities. The price offered by the Centre remains insufficient to farmers given the increase in cost of inputs and labour wages,” said G.Kanagasabai, president, District Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association. Farmers associations, he pointed out, have been demanding that the MSP be hiked to Rs.2,000 a quintal. The Centre should at least offer Rs.1,500 a quintal, he added.

The Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam too expressed resentment over the meagre hike in the MSP for paddy. “This is totally inadequate. The Centre should take into account the production cost and also have in mind the crisis facing the agriculture sector. The MSP for paddy should be fixed at Rs.2000 a quintal,” said Ayilai Sivasuriyan, district president of the association. He also urged the Centre to go by the M.S.Swaminathan Committee recommendation that the MSP should be 50 per cent more than the cost of production.

The Centre's announcement on the MSP for paddy is nothing but an attempt to cheat the farmers without giving them remunerative prices for their produce, said P.Ayyakannu, State Vice President, Bharathiya Kisan Sangam. “Fertilizer prices have been increased by 200 to 300 times, but farmers are hardly given a 20 per cent increase in price. How can it be justified?” he wondered.

Mr.Ayyakannu also pointed out that fertilizer companies have resorted to a massive hike in fertilizers again now, pushing farmers into a distress situation.

Thanking the Centre for the increase, A.Nagarajan of the Congress and president, TN Horticulture Crop Producers Association, however, said the quantum of increase has fallen much short of farmers expectations and did not match the rising input costs.

A 50-kg bag of potash has gone up Rs.760 from Rs.250 and the prices of other fertilizers too have increased manifold. “We were expecting at least Rs.1,500 a quintal and Centre should concede the demand this season itself,” he said.