New Delhi: The Union Cabinet has approved a hike in minimum support price for wheat which is the lowest in decades. It has been increased by Rs 40 per quintal, which translates into a pittance – 40 paise per kg.
This lollipop of a hike has come amid protests by farmers against three new farm laws that they say would give control to private firms over agricultural produce.
The rationale behind MSP -- the price at which the government buys the grain from the farmer -- is ostensibly to cover the cost of production and protect farmers from panic selling. How the government hopes to achieve this objective in 40 paise is mystifying.
The Congress predictably dubbed the hike in wheat MSP as "unt ke muh me zeera;" party chief spokesman and general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala said the government has increased the cost of farming to Rs 25,000 per hectares by pushing up the prices of diesel, fertilisers and agriculture implements, including tractors. And now, farmers have been given a pittance. He also described the cost of production claim by the government as a big fraud on the farmers. He charged that the government is forcing the hand of the farmers to shift to other crops to help the corporate sector.
The Government claims the MSP rates have been tweaked in such a manner that the farmers will be encouraged to go in for crop diversification and snap out of the wheat-rice production cycle. But these support prices are clearly aligned in favour of oilseeds, pulses and coarse cereals. Among pulses, for instance, the MSP for gram has been increased by Rs 130 to Rs 5,230 per quintal and that of lentil (masur) has been hiked by Rs 400 to Rs 5,550 per quintal.
SUGARCANE GROWERS MOST CHEATED: Surjewala said the most cheated is the sugarcane growers as the MSP has been increased by just 1.75% or just Rs 5 over the previous year from Rs 285 to Rs 290 per quintal and that too when they have still not got the price of their last crop from the sugar mills.
The decision to raise the MSP was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs or CCEA chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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