National Affairs

MSP Hike Can’t Double Income, Factor Input Cost: Farm unions

In the middle of the farmers’ Delhi agitation for guaranteed MSP , the Union government on Wednesday increased the minimum support price of various kharif crops but the protesting unions called it inadequate. The farmers want an MSP calculated on all the factors and with 50% profit as recommended in Swaminathan Committee report. The farmer unions claimed the latest increase will not compensate for even the new price of diesel, what to talk of doubling their farm income by 2022. They said most of the crops except wheat, paddy, and cotton were not procured on MSP, as maize was sold for Rs 900 a quintal against an MSP of Rs1,850. The MSP of each quintal of paddy is up by Rs 72. The normal paddy now fetches the farmers Rs 1,940 and fine paddy Rs 1,960. Cotton’s MSP was up Rs 200 for long staple to reach Rs 6,025 but Punjab grows only 27.5-28.5 MM long staple, and that MSP is now Rs 5,925. BKU Ekta-Ugrahan president Joginder Singh Ugrahan said: “This time last year, the price of a litre of diesel was around Rs 65, which is now past Rs 88. The labour is also costlier and, in comparison, the new MSP of paddy and other crops is too small. It is the last crop before 2022, by when the central government has promised to double the farmers’ income.” BKU (Ekta-Dakaunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill and general secretary Jagmohan Singh asked the central government to count all factors while determining the input cost. Burjgill said: “Count the land rent, family labour, and interest on capital as expenses in growing crops. The MSP is meaningless if crops are not purchased for this price.” Meanwhile, Sanyukta Kisan Morcha  (SKM) said while comprehensive cost (C2) should the basis for calculating the profit margin of 50%, the government had used “the old A2+FL formula” of summing up the paid-out costs and the imputed value of family labour.It said the increase as low as Rs 20 per quintal, such as for maize, will not even absorb the impact of price rise. Morcha said that though the MSPs were announced, the actual floor price in the market interfaces made it meaningless, which is why it was asking for a statutory entitlement for all farmers. The SKM quoted Niti Aayog ’s member agriculture Ramesh Chand as saying that the government will resume talks only if the farmers pointed out specific deficiencies in the three laws whose repeal they seek. The SKM stated: “Ramesh Chand needs to revisit the 11 rounds of talks that happened till January 22, where we picked fundamental flaws in the laws.” The morcha said the member’s statement was also in contrast to agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s version that the talks can resume if farmers came out with a proposal other than repeal. The farmers’ agitation on the Delhi borders is close to completing 200 days even when the Prime Minister claimed to be just one call away, the SKM added, calling it “ego and optics games”. Farmers continue to demand a full repeal of the three laws and a new legislation to guarantee MSP. They observed the martyrdom of Sikh warrior Banda Singh Bahadur and tribal leader Birsa Munda at the protest sites on Wednesday. Banda Singh Bahadur gave away land rights to the tillers in the early 18th century before the Mughals took him prisoner and he attained martyrdom on June 9, 1716. Birsa Munda, fought the British rulers to protect the adivasi rights over forests and land. He attained martyrdom in a British jail on June 9,1900.

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