NEW DELHI: The agrarian agitation in Madhya Pradesh may finally force the Centre and states to embark on surgical reforms to give a long-lasting cure to the ailing farm sector.
With onions procured by the MP government allegedly rotting when most parts of the state are under a strong spell of monsoon, the state has told the Centre that the time has come to take drastic measures, including complete transfer of values of crops to farmers without procuring anything from them.
“There was a bumper onion crop in MP along with pulses. Prices crashed and farmers hit the road. The state government began procuring onions at `8 a kg. A small chunk was disposed of through public distribution system at `2 a kg. But the situation is so bad that the state government is trying to sell the onions in other states at whatever price possible through NAFED,” said an MP government official who is coordinating policy changes with NITI Aayog. He added that by the end of the year, crores of public exchequer money would rot due to onions.
“On the recommendation of the NITI Aayog, MP will become the first state to completely compensate farmers for loss of income. Areas under cultivation for a crop will be fixed, which will act as the ceiling and average yield of the crop determined along with the average market price for the last three years to arrive at the sum to be paid to the farmers,” said the official. Farmers will be free to sell their crops in the market.
The government will also specify how much land can be used for sowing of a specific crop to avoid the nightmare of 2017 repeating itself. Farmers will be forced to diversify crops, which can help them earn more while avoiding bumper crops leading to price crash.
With Assembly elections looming in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan next year, BJP-led governments in these states are gearing up to embrace radical reforms in agriculture to stay clear of the farmers agitation.