BHUBANESWAR: The Centre has again said no to the demand for revision of minimum support price (MSP) of paddy evoking strong criticism from the BJD and Congress. In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Union Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh Sekhawat said there is no proposal for the time being to revise the MSP on paddy. According to the Centre, a farmer makes a profit of `433 with the MSP at `1550 as the production cost comes to around `1,117 per quintal.
However, Agriculture Minister Pradip Maharathi described the decision of the Centre as anti-farmer. Stating that the Centre has not properly analysed the cost inputs to arrive at the production cost of paddy, Maharathi rejected the Union Minister’s reply. The State Government had fixed the production cost of paddy at a much higher `2,344 per quintal.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Narasingh Mishra also strongly criticised the Centre’s stand. The BJD and Centre have betrayed the farmers of Odisha, Mishra said and added that though the BJP MLAs had supported the demand for a hike in MSP of paddy to `2,930 per quintal, the organisational wing has adopted an anti-farmer attitude.
“It is true that the farmers are not getting the existing MSP due to distress sale of paddy, but that is not a reason to go back on a promise made in the election manifesto,” he said and criticised the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre for not fulfilling the promise to hike MSP on paddy by one and a half times of the production cost.
The BJD staged a dharna over the issue in front of the Raj Bhavan here in November and submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind through the Governor criticising the attitude of the Centre towards the farmers. The Centre announced MSP of `1,550 per quintal of paddy for 2017-18 completely ignoring the State’s demand for its hike, the memorandum said and added that the price fixed by the Centre is not commensurate with the rising cost of inputs.
A unanimous resolution was passed in the Assembly on March 25 to demand revision of MSP of paddy to `2,930 per quintal and an all-party House Committee under the chairmanship of Speaker was constituted to discuss the issue with the Prime Minister. But, there was no response to the request seeking an appointment with the Prime Minister.