Jaitley's MSP promise does not impress Maharashtra farmers
Finance minister Arun Jaitley's announcement in the Budget promising minimum support price 1.5 times of the input cost was meant to assuage the rural community. However, the announcement has not led to any excitement in Maharashtra, which has one of the highest rates of farmers suicide due to rural distress.
This is because of the way the whole MSP pricing is worked out. The Commissioner for Agricultural Costs and Price (CACP) decides the MSP averaging the input cost of different states to fix the MSP for a crop. This fixing of the average proves detrimental for a state like Maharashtra that has high input costs. For instance, the daily wage labourer working in a farm in Bihar will get only around Rs 100 to Rs 150 per day for his labour, while in Maharashtra it can get higher than Rs 300 per day. Even the cost of seeds, fertilisers differ from state to state. If a farmer from Bihar sows cotton since the labour and other associated input costs are lower than that of in Maharashtra, the average decided by the CACP would always be lower than that of the input cost of a farmer in Maharashtra. In fact, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in 2015 said that such an average means states such as Maharashtra lose out as the farmer in the state has a high input cost as compared to other states.
"For the idea of MSP to work, we need to have different MSPs announced for different states as the input costs differ widely from state to state and in the current model farmers in the states incurring high cost of production lose out on proper renumerative prices." Sandeep Vempati, an agricultural researcher. Popatrao Pawar, an acclaimed farmer and sarpanch of Hiwre Bazaar in Ahmednagar, said that under the current system an MSP is following a flawed model. "In many parts of Maharashtra, you don't get labour to work in your fields even if you are ready to pay Rs 300 a day to the labourer. So even if he gets an MSP it would still not be enough for the farmer here, considering the high investment he has done.
Farmers leader Raghunath dada Patil said that MSP is not the only issue. "The government needs to correct its import export policy. When farmers are already getting a low price they still allow import of the products this leads to further losses for the farmers-."said Patil.
Patil was referring to the onion farmers in Maharashtra, which is one of the biggest producers of the crop. Onion prices are at a free fall over the last few days as prices for a quintal of onions has fallen by more than Rs 1,300 in a week's time. Last week a quintal of onion would fetch a farmer Rs 2700; this has now gone to Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,400 per quintal now.
By BOA Bureau