Experts say scrapping wheat import duty likely to hit farmers’ income

December 09, 2016 02:00 pm | Updated 02:00 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

File photo: Akhilesh Kumar

File photo: Akhilesh Kumar

While the Centre has scrapped import duty on wheat in a bid to improve domestic availability on wheat and to put a on check on rising prices, agriculture experts believe the decision could badly hurt farmers’ income.

“The government has been saying that wheat sowing has not been impacted by demonetisation and the area of cultivation has increased. If the area has actually risen and there are no other indications that wheat production will be down in the ongoing season, then why is the government is allowing import of wheat duty-free?” asks Ajay Jakhar, chairman of the Bharat Krishak Samaj..

Mr. Jakhar said: “I think the government has taken this decision under pressure from international commodities firms. This decision is counterproductive to government's 'Make in India' initiative and would hit farmers income. It will lead to a drop in wheat price by at least Rs. 250 per quintal in the open market.”

On Thursday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tabled the notification regarding scrapping the wheat import duty in Lok Sabha. The government announced to reduce the import duty on wheat from 10 per cent to zero, with immediate effect.

Noted agricultural policy analyst, Devinder Sharma said: “Scrapping duty on wheat would be detrimental to Indian agriculture. First, we did it with oilseeds then with pulses and now with wheat. Importing wheat it will hurt our farmers.”

“Prices of wheat have been going up due to government's failure. But the farmers should not be penalised for that,” added Mr. Sharma.

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