Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday dismissed the Minimum Support Hike (MSP) hike announced by the Centre “as nothing more than a cosmetic measure,” which does not address the core concerns of the farming community.
In a statement, Singh said the increase did not meet the state government’s demand for 50% hike over and above C2 (a comprehensive cost, accounting for the rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets over A2 + FL (which covers the actual paid out costs plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour).
“The state’s demand was in line with the recommendation and subsequent clarification issued by Dr. Swaminathan on the recommended MSP hike,” said the Punjab Chief Minister, reiterating his demand for in toto implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission report.
“The increase announced by the central government did not meet the expectations of the distressed farming community, nor was it adequate to address the root of the problem, as identified by the Swaminathan Commission. It will only offer marginal relief to the beleaguered farmers, reeling under huge debts,” he added.
Singh lamented that the Centre had also failed to accept the state government’s demand for compensation for paddy residue management, which was a critical necessity in view of the pollution problem.
Further, he pointed out that there was also no move by the Centre to purchase other crops at MSP to motivate farmers to diversify, adding that failure to do so would have serious ramifications not only for Punjab but for the entire nation in view of the grave groundwater crisis it was facing.
“If the central government was indeed serious about addressing the problems of the farming community, they would have to go beyond such half-hearted attempts and come out with a comprehensive package, including national debt waiver scheme,” Singh asserted.
“As a nation, we owe it to our farmers,” he said, adding that the farming community deserved a much better deal in exchange of the labours it had been putting in for decades to feed the country and make it food secure.
Earlier in the day, in order to boost the income of the farmers, the Union Cabinet approved the MSP for 14 Kharif crops for the year 2018-19.
The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi approved the proposal made by Union Minister Arun Jaitley in the Budget 2018 of hiking the support price by one-and-a-half times of the production cost for Kharif crops.
MSP is referred to a price at which the government buys crops from the farmers, to protect agriculture producers from fall in farm prices.
The MSP for paddy has been increased by around Rs 200 per quintal, jowar (hybrid) by Rs 730 per quintal and ragi by Rs 997 per quintal.
The MSP of paddy (common grade) has been increased by Rs 200 to Rs 1,750 per quintal, while that of Grade A variety by Rs 160 per quintal to Rs 1,750.
The MSP of medium staple cotton has been increased to Rs 5,150 from Rs 4,020 earlier, and that of long staple cotton to Rs 5,450 from Rs 4,320 per quintal.
In pulses, MSP of tur dal has been raised to Rs 5,675 per quintal from Rs 5,450, while that of moong dal to Rs 6,975 per quintal from Rs 5,575.
In his 2018 Budget speech, Jaitley had announced that think-tank Niti Aayog in consultation with central and state governments will put in place a mechanism to ensure farmers get benefits of the minimum support price.
Since 2007-08, the MSP has gone up from Rs 745 to Rs 1550 per quintal.
In 2008-09, the MSP was increased from Rs 745 per quintal in the previous fiscal year (FY) to Rs 900 per quintal (an increase of Rs 155 per quintal). Rs 100 per quintal on MSP was also raised by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in FY 2009-10. (ANI)