Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The government’s ambitious minimum support price (MSP) scheme to improve farmers’ income has hit a roadblock as Niti Aayog missed the deadline to suggest a viable procurement model.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced in his Budget speech the government would ensure agriculture produce is procured at the revised MSP, which will be 1.5 times the production cost. The Centre had entrusted the think tank with the task to come up with a procurement model. “However, there is nothing concrete till date. In fact, recently the Aayog said states can go for the Madhya Pradesh model or any model they choose, but that is not what was expected from them,” said a senior agriculture ministry official.
Earlier, the Aayog had suggested roping in the private sector for procurement. However, the idea was rejected as many members of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council felt it was flawed. The Centre, then, asked the Niti Aayog to come up with a better model before March 31.
With the Aayog not having any concrete model, now it is up to the states to choose their own MSP model. This may be disappointing for the government, which is looking to spend a minimum of Rs 20,000-25,000 crore initially along with the states to ensure that farmers get the benefit of MSP.
“We cannot wait any longer. We have decided to leave it open-ended for the states,” said a finance ministry official. In all this confusion, farmers continue to suffer.
In many states, farmers were reportedly forced to sell their produce below MSP. Earlier this month, farmers’ organisation Jai Kisan Andolan launched a daily news alert to track the ground reality on MSP. The MSP alert is published on social media handles of the Jai Kisan Andolan and associated organisations.
Actual selling price way lower than MSP
In Maharashtra, farmers sell soybean at Rs 2,700 a quintal while MSP is Rs 3,050
Tur dal is sold at Rs 4,100 a quintal against MSP of Rs 5,450
Farmers get Rs 3,500 for selling one quintal of chana dal while the MSP is Rs 4,400
Maharashtra farmers are still waiting for dues worth J520 crore from Nafed for crops sold since February
Farmers’ loss from underselling their produce is pegged at Rs 14,474 crore