MSP hike: too little, too late
The MSP announcements will do little for farmers who have already sowed their crop.
- Snehal Warekar
Pandurang Gore, a young farmer from Jalna district who has completed his sowing for the season asks a very simple question-“Before the announcement of MSP did the government consider the draught and the late monsoon?”
He further adds, saying, “As a farmer, I feel that the recent announcement of MSP is too late, we are already done with the sowing. The MSP should have been announced before the monsoon started so that we could have decided the produce in time and could have availed the MSP benefits.”
The Minimum Support Price, MSP is the mechanism to give a guaranteed price to the produce of the farmers. It aims at safeguarding the interests of the farmers.
On Wednesday, the Central Government of India announced the much awaited and discussed MSP for major Kharif crops. Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, along with Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Jawadekar, announced the ‘hike’ ranging from 1% to 9% in MSP. The Season MSP of Paddy has increased by Rs 65 per Quintal and MSP of Tur, Moong and Urad pulses raised by Rs 125, Rs 75 & Rs 100 respectively. The MSP of Soybean hiked by Rs 311 per Quintal and Medium cotton MSP raised by Rs 105 per Quintal whereas Long Cotton MSP up by Rs 100 per Quintal.
On the same day, the Shetkari Sanghtana (Swabhimani) passed their 8 points declaration in which one of the significant points was the demand for timely MSP. In a two-day party workshop, Shetkari Sanghatana (Swabhimani) has decided to address the agrarian distress. It believes that the agriculture sector is in loss and the farmers of the country are made to face the adverse conditions. The government has miserably failed to perfectly implement the schemes like PMFBY-Crop Insurance Scheme, agriculture corridor, Food Parks, MSP and Solar Agriculture Pumping Scheme that resulted in the misery.
Speaking to Indie Journal, Raju Shetti, the chief of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, said, “It is true that as compared to the last year the MSP has been increased, but the MSP has not been increased in the proportion of the production cost, i.e., the labour, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, diesel and so on.”
The Agricultural census says, 86% of the farmers come under the small and marginal category. Globalization, resulting in the free trade of the agricultural commodities, price fluctuation and market imperfections are the major concerns before the agricultural sector. In such a situation, the farmer’s interests become the primary and foremost responsibility of the country.
When asked about the delay, he said, “It should have been declared in May. The government has broken the tradition of announcing the MSP in May and it will definitely affect the farmers.”
In fact, MSP is expected to be announced well in advance and be properly implemented as intended to help the farmers from agrarian distress. Since it was not announced in time, it would be further difficult for farmers to plant the crops that have a higher MSP. Therefore, the lingering question on the minds of the farmers is about the actual benefit of the much-hyped MSP as what has been announced, does too little for them, too late.
He also added, “The method (A2+FL) used to decide the MSP is not valid. Even this method is not followed properly. In fact, this MSP should be called ‘Adjusted MSP’ in which they decided before the survey and then put the calculation accordingly. Agriculture Price Commission has become a puppet in the hands of the government.”
In an attempt to communicate with the farmers from different regions of Maharashtra over the recently announced Minimum Support Price, Indie Journal received diverse opinions.
With an altogether different view on the MSP, Dadasaheb Kashid, a farmer from Satara district told Indie Journal that, “I have no faith in MSP. MSP is merely the numbers for me. Hence I see neither previous nor the new numbers. Only MSP will not help us. There are natural calamities that needed to be tackled. ”
According to the NITI Aayog Survey, In Kolhapur district, less than 30 percent of households were aware of the MSP. The condition of other districts in Maharashtra is not too different. The overall awareness among the farmers needs to be increased and the information should be timely disseminated till the lowest level so that the knowledge would increase the bargaining power of the farmers.
Dadasaheb Kashid demandingly said, “Any government should look after the interests of the farmer firstly because they are the one who supposedly are to take care of the entire nation.” The All India Kisan Sabha’s Ajit Navale has recently announced statewide protest and the agitation against the recent MSP announcement by the center.
As pointed out by the farmers, a lot more than the mere MSP needs to be done to tackle the deep-rooted agrarian distress. Global trends show that farmers need productive and positive intervention and support of the state. As seen in the case of the US Soybean farmers, where approximately 16 billion dollars have been provided to the trade war-affected farmers. Can India do something alike? This is the question that policymakers are expected to ponder over.
Snehal Warekar is an intern with Indie Journal.