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Budget 2021: Farmers dismiss Government’s claim regarding MSP hike

In the Budget 2021 speech on Monday, some farmers' organisations opposed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's statement that there has been a big change in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system to ensure at least 1.5 times the cost of production for all crops, in addition to a steady rise in crop procurement. The argument was named 'eyewash' by the farming groups.

Prity Barman
Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman
Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman

In the Budget 2021 speech on Monday, some farmers' organisations opposed Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's statement that there has been a big change in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system to ensure at least 1.5 times the cost of production for all crops, in addition to a steady rise in crop procurement. The argument was named 'eyewash' by the farming groups. 

Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), one of Punjab's biggest farmers' unions, said that guaranteeing 1.5 times the cost of crop production does not help to tackle the plight of farmers as it does not have a remunerative price. 

The BJP refused to enforce the advice of the Swaminathan Commission to address MSP according to the C2 formula plus 50%, as they vowed during the 2014 parliamentary polls. 'They've been betraying producers. It is a 'hollow and dishonest' idea to assert that maintaining 1.5 times the cost of output benefits farmers,' said BKU (U) General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Korikalan. 

‘As far as the raise in procurement is concerned, in Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, the government has only procured crops such as wheat and paddy because farmers were protesting there. The government's procurement is minimal in other areas of the country. Even, after the current farm laws are applied and private markets continue to emerge, government procurement will inevitably collapse,' he added. 

Sarvan Singh Pandher of Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Samiti said the reason behind the increase in wheat and paddy procurement is attributed to the purchasing of food grains by private traders in states that lack the 'mandis' Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC); traders then sell the Punjab and Haryana mandis crop. 

In neighboring States, private traders buy wheat-paddy from farmers at a lower price than the MSP and then sell it at MSP in 'Mandis' of Punjab and Haryana, alleged Mr. Pandher. 

The government should make MSP a farmer's constitutional right as the price of 1.5 times the cost of production is just a 'eyewash,' he said. 

General Secretary Harinder Singh of BKU (Lakhowal) expressed the opinion that the surge in procurement was due to private traders purchasing from farmers at a lower price and then selling it at the MSP in APMC 'mandis.' 

Sitharaman said in her Budget speech that there was a steady growth in farmers' procurement of wheat, rice and pulses. In the case of wheat, the cumulative sum paid to farmers in 2013-2014 was  33,874 crore, 62,802 crore in 2019-2020 and 75,060 crore in 2020-2021, the minister said. Similarly for paddy, the sum paid in 2013-14 was about 63,928 crore, it was about  1,41,930 crore in 2019-2020 and it is expected to grow to about  172,752 crore in 2020-2021, she added. 

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