Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan announced the base price for 16 agricultural items, including vegetables, fruits, and tubers, in what the government termed a first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, here. This is the first time that any state fixes MSP for vegetables.The scheme, designed to protect farmers from adverse price fluctuations, would come into effect from November 1. Vijayan said the base price would provide relief and support to both traditional farmers and those newly farming the land. While farmers around the country were discontent and had taken up protests, the Kerala government supported them and rolled out several initiatives aimed at development of agriculture in the past four-and-a-half years. The base price was one such measure. Sixteen agricultural produce would be covered in the first phase. Crops such as tapioca, ‘nendran’ plantain, pineapple, bitter gourd, cucumber, snake gourd, tomato, cabbage, and beans that were produced in the State had been included in the base price, which would be 20% above the production cost of the vegetable. If the market price dipped below the base price of a vegetable, the produce would be procured at the base price and the money transferred to farmers’ accounts. The produce would be graded on quality, and the base price fixed on that basis. There was also a provision to revise the base price regularly, the Chief Minister said. He pointed out that vegetable production in the State had more than doubled from 7 lakh tonnes to 14.72 lakh tonnes in the past four-and-a-half years. Area under paddy cultivation had increased from 1.96 lakh hectares to 2.15 lakh hectares. This was the result of schemes such as Subhiksha Keralam and Jeevani that had attracted non-residents Keralites who had returned home, women, and the youth.