Almost at the fag end of the kharif sowing season, the Centre has announced an increase of Rs. 100 a quintal in the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy and a hike of Rs. 300 a quintal for arhar (tur) dal over last year.
The MSP for moong dal was raised by Rs. 240 and for sesame by Rs.100 a quintal.
The move is aimed at encouraging farmers to sell their produce to official procurement agencies for the central pool.
With 246 districts affected by drought, it is estimated that rice production will go down by 10 million tonnes this season and it may trigger a further hike in prices.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh chaired a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), which revised the MSP for kharif crops for the 2009-10 season on Thursday.
There was no increase in the minimum price for jowar, bajra, maize, ragi, urad dal, groundnut-in-shell, soyabean, sunflower seed, nigerseed and cotton.
The meeting took no decision on the Statutory Minimum Price (SMP) for sugarcane. The government is in talks with the States, on the one hand, to go in for a uniform SMP (instead of a State Advised Price) and with the industry, on the other, to secure a higher quantum of levy sugar for the central pool in view of the shortfall in production last year and a slightly lower acreage under sugarcane this year.
The MSP for the common variety of paddy has been increased to Rs. 950 from Rs. 850 a quintal and for A-grade to Rs. 980 from Rs. 880. Last year, bowing to the demand from several States, the Centre gave an additional bonus of Rs. 50 a quintal.
The MSP for tur has now been increased to Rs. 2,300 from Rs. 2,000, for moong to Rs. 2,760 from Rs. 2,520 and for sesame to Rs. 2,850 from Rs. 2,750.
Last year saw a record procurement, Home Minister P. Chidambaram told journalists after the CCEA meeting. “I am sure farmers will offer surplus paddy for procurement this year,” he said. In the 2008-09 season (October-September), the government so far procured about 326.69 lakh tonnes of rice.
He said the CCEA decisions were based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
However, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) has termed the Rs. 100 hike for paddy “too small” and demanded an MSP of at least Rs.1,500. “It is like playing a cruel joke on the farmers who have spent huge amount of money to save their paddy crop in view of the erratic monsoon this kharif,” union president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said in Chandigarh. He announced launching of an agitation for a higher MSP.
The Kerala government has urged the Centre to raise it to Rs.1,100.
Keywords: MSP, paddy, tur dal, Agriculture, drought, monsoon, deficit, rain, rainfall, food security, rural, livelihood, Sharad Pawar, Public Distribution System, PDS, conference, Food and Civil Supplies, BPL,