The hike in MSP announced by Centre on kharif season crops Wednesday is too little and too late, farmer union leaders said.
The government raised the minimum support price of paddy marginally by Rs 72 per quintal to Rs 1,940 for the 2021-22 crop year, while the rates of pulses, oilseeds and cereals were hiked substantially.
Among the commercial crops, the MSP of cotton was increased by Rs 211 per quintal to Rs 5,726 for the medium-staple variety and by Rs 200 per quintal to Rs 6,025 for the long-staple variety for the 2021-22 crop year (July-June).
Paddy is the main kharif crop, the sowing of which has begun with the onset of the Southwest monsoon.
While Prime Minister Narenda Modi tweeted that the hike MSP will boost farmers’ income and improve their living standards, farm union leaders said the increase in rates was not according to recommendations by MS Swaminathan Commission (2006) and Ramesh Chand Committee (2015).
“While MSP for paddy has been increased by 3.8 per cent, that of maize and cotton, which are the alternative crops for paddy in the light of much-needed diversification in Punjab and Haryana, have been hiked by by 1.1 per cent and 3.8 per cent (medium staple and 3.4% for long staple cotton), respectively. Also, announcing the MSP now when sowing of cotton is over in Punjab and Haryana, is of no relevance. Had it been announced before beginning of the cotton sowing in the April, more farmers could have opted for cotton crop,” said Jagmohan Singh, general secretary BKU (Dakuanda).
He said that the rates announced by Centre will only be relevant if government procures all crops on the announced MSP and the private players offer at par or higher rates.
Jugraj Sigh, a maize farmer from Jalandhar, said, “Farmers got Rs 900 to Rs 1100 per quital for maize against the MSP of Rs 1,850 announced by the government last year. Now, the MSP for maize has been hiked by a mere Rs 20 per quintal. Why would farmers opt for the crop, which has no assured market and also has low MSP”.
“We are concerned about the depleting ground water of Punjab and want to diversify the paddy area to other crops but for that assured market is needed which the government is ignoring,” said Jagmohan Singh.
BKU Ugrahan General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said that the hike in MSP is nothing compared to the increase in the prices of diesel, fertilizers, and insecticide in the pasty one year. He said that last year when the cotton prices crashed to much below the MSP, the Cotton Corporation of India entered the market and after some time, the private players started offering Rs 50 to 100 per quintal above the MSP.
SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal too said the increase in the MSP announced by the Centre for paddy is not only insufficient but also a “retrograde step” that will take agriculture backwards instead of doubling farm income by 2022. He said the “marginal increase” is not sufficient to cover the rise in the cost of agricultural inputs like diesel and fertilisers. “The one and a half times income formula should be applied on the actual cost of production, including rent and interest foregone by farmers on land and machinery,” he said.
“The cavalier manner in which the MSP has been calculated also exposes the apathetic attitude of the government towards farmers. The MSP should be increased keeping in view the actual cost of production,” Badal added.