Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday termed the meagre MSP hike for paddy as not only grossly inadequate but an insult to the farmers who have been fighting for their rightful dues through their anti-Farm Laws agitation for the past over six months.
At a time when the farmers continued to put their lives on the line with their prolonged protest at the Delhi borders, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Central Government has, instead of putting the balm on their wounds, added insult to injury with the MSP announcement, said the Chief Minister.
Captain Amarinder slammed the anti-farmer Government at the Centre for consistently failing to protect the interests of the farmers and its apathy for their problems. The less than 4% hike in MSP of paddy was not enough even to meet the increased input costs, he pointed out, citing the extraordinary hikes in diesel and other costs over the past one year. The increase in MSP of other crops was also quite measly, he added, noting that the small hike in the base price of Maize would discourage farmers from going in for the much-needed crop diversification to save the precious and depleting water resource.
The Chief Minister noted that the Swaminathan Committee, whose recommendations the central government has adamantly refused to accept, had clearly suggested that MSP should be “at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production”. Far from implementing the recommendations of the Committee in the interests of the farmers and the nation’s food security, the BJP-led Government had passed the anti-farmer Farm Laws that are clearly aimed at destroying India’s farmers, he lamented.
The Chief Minister said that it was not enough for the Union Agriculture Minister to say that the doors for talks with farmers were open. The Government of India should repeal the Farm Laws and then sit across the table with the farmers to come out with genuine and meaningful reforms in agriculture in the interest of the agricultural community and the entire nation, he asserted.
Demanding that the Government of India should simplify procurement of all agricultural produce at MSP that fully covers farmers cost plus 50% margin, as recommended by the Swaminathan Committee, the Chief Minister stressed the need to take the actual cost of production into account in measuring the MSP.
The Chief Minister said the miniscule MSP hike had once again exposed the Centre’s anti-farmer policies and programmes. The Government of India is increasingly becoming a bottleneck in the smooth procurement of food grains at MSP by making procedures and process more complicated and anti-farmer, he added.
Captain Amarinder warned that such apathetic attitude towards the farmers, who had ensured that Agriculture remained the biggest revenue earner for the Government even amid the pandemic, would be detrimental to the long-term interests of the country. “It could push India back into the pre Green Revolution era, forcing us once again to pick up the begging bowl to meet the food related needs of our people,” he added.