NEW DELHI: The big move of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh to waive off farm loan appears to have opened a Pandora’s Box with farmers’ agitations in the BJP ruled Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh turning violent. Even while there is a rising clamour for UP like farm loan waiver in other states, as sought by the NCP chief Sharad Pawar during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, the Centre remains firm that it has to be a state government’s call and the Central government would not foot the bill.
Besides the demand for farm loan waiver, the farmers are also apparently anguished that they could not avail the minimum support prices (MSP) for a host of crops. The Centre had gone aggressive in hiking the MSP for pulses in the last two cropping seasons. The farmers, while taking the cue from the hiked MSP, sowed pulses on a large scale, which led to 22 million tonnes of productions IN 2016-17 against the average 17 million tonnes in the recent past.
“It’s true that the farmers had to sell pulses to traders at a much below price than the MSP for the reason that the state governments have not yet created enough procurement centres and storage capacities. Since pulses need to be protected against moisture, which can get fungus, the creation of scientific storage capacity is a big concern, which is depriving the farmers the price that they should genuinely get,” said a senior official of the Ministry of Food and Consumer Affairs.
Incidentally, the vegetable prices had crashed after the announcement of the November 8 decision on demonetization, while the subdued price trend continues even now. “The Centre has been pursuing with the state governments for reforms in Agricultural Produces Market Committee (APMC) to unveil a single market for farmers, besides integration with e-National Agricultural Market (e-NAM). It’s progressing at a snail’s pace and much need to be done with proactive cooperation of the state governments. It has to be understood that there is no short cut to end the woes of the farmers.
Agriculture has not seen reforms, which are urgently needed to help the farmers increase their incomes,” said a senior official of the NITI Aayog.
Incidentally, Pawar in his meeting with the Prime Minister reportedly pressed for a UP like farm loan waiver in Maharashtra. The Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has constituted a team headed by the NITI Aayog Advisor Dr T Haque to look into the ways to waive the farm loan, besides suggesting the roadmap for revival of farm economy in the state.