SHIMLA: The Kisan Dharna continues with farmers having refused all the amendments proposed by them and accepted by the union government. They are apprehensive of not getting MSP on their produce after enactment of the three Agriculture Bills.
The opposition parties mainly the congress has been fuelling the agitation on various aspects of APMC and MSP.
Not long ago, in September 2020, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by the Prime Minister had approved the increase in the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all mandated Rabi crops for marketing season 2021-22. This increase in MSP was in line with the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission. And this increase had been made much after enactment of the three Agriculture Bills. Still the Farmers unions toeing the voice of opposition parties and the Congress allege that post the introduction of bills the MSP will be withdrawn.
The government, committed to the welfare of farmers and towards doubling their income by 2022 had effected the highest increase in MSP viz. for lentil (Rs. 300 per quintal) followed by gram and rapeseed & mustard (Rs. 225 per quintal each) and safflower (Rs. 112 per quintal). For barley and wheat, an increase of Rs. 75 per quintal and Rs 50 per quintal respectively had been announced.
The return over cost of production includes all paid out costs such as those incurred on account of hired human labour, bullock labour/machine labour, rent paid for leased in land, expenses incurred on use of material inputs like seeds, fertilizers, manures, irrigation charges, depreciation on implements and farm buildings, interest on working capital, diesel/electricity for operation of pump sets etc, miscellaneous expenses and imputed value of family labour.
The increase in MSP for Rabi Crops for marketing season 2021-22 was in line with the principle of fixing the MSPs at a level of at least 1.5 times of the All-India weighted average Cost of Production as announced in Union Budget. The expected returns to farmers over their cost of production are estimated to be highest in case of Wheat (106%) followed by rapeseed & mustard (93%), gram and lentil (78%). For barley, return to farmers over their cost of production is estimated at 65% and for safflower, it is 50%.
The government promises that Food Corporation of India (FCI) and other designated State Agencies would continue to provide price support to the farmers.
But the opposition parties are out to misguide the farmers that post implementation of the bills the MSP will cease to remain in force.
The farmers contend that against the MSP of Rs.1869 a quintile for dhan crop, they had received payments in the range of Rs.1000 to 1100 only. With the best prices of farm produce available in Punjab, the farmers from neighboring states too attempt to bring their produce to Punjab mandis. On the other side the grain merchants contend that due to Corona the rice exports were badly affected leading to drastic drop in prices of different quality of rice. The price of certain quality of rice was even below that of paddy.
A TV channel survey of the farmers in UP and Bihar and Punjab revealed that majority of the farmers are not at all aware of the facts of Agriculture bills, leave apart the implications of contract farming.
The opposition parties on the one hand will continue agitating the farmers to demand higher MSP on their produce and then the general masses and consumers on the higher prices of food grains. Does that amount to beginning of another subsidy to all the consumers in the country to afford buying foodgrain? It may also amount to increase in the prices of food grains in the country and merchants opting to imports at lower prices.