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Farmers’ protests: Punjab CM for implementation of Swaminathan report

Chandigarh :
Amid agitations in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said the problems of the farmers could be resolved by the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report and sought the Centre’s intervention in the matter.

He also reiterated the Congress’s demand for farm debt waiver in all states, with urgent steps to fix the MSP of crops in line with the recommendations of the Commission.

“The key to resolving the farmers’ problems in the country lies in the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which had recommended fixing the minimum support prices (MSP) for crops at levels at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production,” he said.

His request for the Centre’s intervention comes amid an “escalating” farmers’ crisis in the country and continuing “spate of farmer suicides” in various states, including Punjab.

Five people were on Tuesday killed in farmers’ agitation in western Madhya Pradesh. The farmers are protesting since June 1 demanding higher MSP for their produce, among others.

Protest on similar lines is on in Maharashtra since the beginning of the month.In a statement issued here, the Punjab chief minister called for a holistic policy by the Centre to address the problem.

“Though the commission set up by the Centre to work out the debt waiver modalities was already on the job, it was important to resolve the crisis at a national level,” he added.

As pointed out by the commission, this would help enhance the profitability in agriculture, by ensuring a minimum of 50 per cent profits over the cost of production, he said.

Pointing out that a fair price mechanism for farmers would go a long way in ensuring better remuneration for their crops, the chief minister appealed to the central government to come out with a national framework for the same.

He referred to his own request to the central government for fixing MSP for maize, in addition to wheat and paddy, to stress the need to encourage the farmers to diversify their cultivation habits and shift towards the more lucrative cash crops.

Singh had a few days ago written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his direct intervention in fixing the procurement price of maize at the central government’s MSP to boost crop diversification.

Lamenting delay in allowing the purchase of maize at MSP through central agencies, including FCI and NAFED, the chief minister had, in his letter, said an early decision on this was necessary to facilitate timely procurement of maize.

He had also pointed out that the Centre had already noted that the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies should procure Maize at MSP as it was one of the important food crops.

PTI