Farmer union leaders have brushed off the hike in the minimum support price (MSP) on kharif season crops as too little, too late. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted that the hike in MSP will boost farmers’ income and improve their living standards. However, the farm union leaders said the increase in rates was not according to recommendations by MS Swaminathan Commission (2006) and Ramesh Chand Committee (2015).
The government raised the MSP of paddy marginally by Rs 72 per quintal to Rs 1,940 for the 2021-22 crop year. The rates of pulses, oilseeds and cereals were also increased. The price 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 June-July.
Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, BKU (Dakuanda), said while MSP for paddy has been increased by 3.8%, 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 1.1% and 3.8% (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 April, more farmers could have opted for the cotton crop,” Singh explained. “The rates announced by the Centre will only be relevant if the government procures all crops on the announced MSP and the private players offer at par or higher rates.”
Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, BKU Ugrahan General Secretary, said 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.
Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD chief, said the increase in MSP for paddy is not only insufficient but also a retrograde step that will take agriculture backwards instead of doubling farm income by 2022. “The marginal increase is not sufficient to cover the rise in the cost of agricultural inputs like diesel and fertilizers. 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.”