New Delhi: Farmers in nine agricultural markets across five states are getting far less than the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce, Swaraj Abhiyan president Yogendra Yadav said on Saturday citing a survey by six organisations.
Releasing the interim report here, Yadav said the exercise was part of the MSP Satyagraha, a nationwide campaign launched on March 14 to find the truth about prices being realised by farmers and efficacy of the government procurement system.
The survey report comes amid what opposition parties and activists call a growing agrarian crisis in several parts of the country, resulting in massive agitations by farmers.
“The finance minister (Arun Jatiley) had said that special arrangement will be made to ensure that farmers get the MSP. We wanted to see if farmers are getting the MSP that was declared by the government. But the reality is, currently the MSP of every crop is below the market price,” he said.
Jaitley had said in his budget speech in February that the government will ensure that farmers get 50% over the cost of production and that the Niti Aayog is working on a model to implement this.
Citing an example, Yadav said the Centre had announced an MSP of Rs 5,450 for red gram (tur dal) and the Karnataka government was giving an additional bonus of Rs 550, taking the assured price to Rs 6,000 per quintal.
“But when we visited Yadagir, Adoni and Suryapet APMC (agricultural produce market committee) we found red gram was sold at Rs 3,885 a quintal,” he said.
Similarly, groundnut was being sold at Rs 3,821 per quintal against an MSP fixed at Rs 4,450 per quintal.
“Farmers in AP complained that only about a fifth of the stock was procured (by the government) while the rest had to be sold at a loss in the open market. Almost every beneficiary of procurement complained that they had not received payment even after 2-3 months,” Yadav said.
Yadav claimed that the estimated loss of farmers due to selling crops below the MSP for major rabi crops — excluding wheat and winter paddy — is Rs 14,474 crore. The loss estimates are based on marketable surplus for rabi this year.
Calling it a “government-sponsored loot of farmers” Yadav and his associate demanded that farmers should be able to sell their entire crop at the MSP, and the government should take all steps to ensure that this happens.
Yadav did not share the methodology of the survey or the number of people surveyed.
Besides Swaraj Abhiyan, a socio-political organisation, other groups part of the campaign include the National Alliance of People’s Movement, Kisan Sangarsh Samiti and Rythu Swarajya Vedika.
He said representatives of the organisations visited mandis in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan and Haryana and interacted with farmers, traders and market officials in those states.
Doubling farmers’ income by 2022 is one of the major promises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi but his government has faced massive protests by peasants over the past few months.
Last week, nearly 35,000 farmers walked 180 km from Nashik to Mumbai in an unprecedented show of protest, demanding loan waivers and adequate returns.
Last year, at least five farmers were killed in Madhya Pradesh, a BJP-ruled state, in police firing during an agitation by farmers over similar demands.