The decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Tuesday to marginally hike the minimum support price (MSP) for 14 kharif crops received a cautious response from farmers’ groups.
They pointed out that MSPs do not actually help the farmer unless procurement can be increased. Badri Narayan Chaudhary, general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, a farmers’ group affiliated to the ruling BJP, welcomed the increase in MSPs, but said it was now up to the government to ensure that farmers get the full benefit on the ground.
“What is the rationale of symbolically increasing prices when paddy is being sold at 40% lower rates in the mandi?” asked V.M. Singh, convenor of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, a platform of more than 200 farmers groups.
He noted that paddy was sold at Rs. 1,100-1,200 per quintal in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar last year when the official MSP was Rs. 1,750 per quintal.
“The government must guarantee buyback at that rate so that the benefits reach 100% of farmers, or it is useless,” Mr. Singh said.
He added that production costs should have been calculated including land costs, as recommended by the M.S. Swaminathan Commission.
“Whatever the government has announced may cover costs, but is available to so few farmers that it is almost a ritual,” said Avik Saha, convenor of the Jai Kisan Andolan.
He urged the Centre to ensure the implementation of the PM-AASHA scheme announced last year to increase procurement.
“It has the ingredients of a good scheme, and now that the electoral rush is over, it must be implemented,” he said.