Bhubaneswar: The Centre has finally turned down Odisha’s demand to hike minimum support price (MSP) of paddy.
Deputy Economic Adviser in the Directorate of Economics and Statistics under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in a letter addressed to Rohit Pujari of Biju Janata Dal Krushak Sammukhya (BJDKS), the farmers’ front of ruling party-Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has said that paddy farmers in Odisha are getting adequate return over its cost of production.
“Government has increased the MSP of paddy (common) to Rs 1550 per quintal for 2017-18 season from Rs 1470 per quintal of 2016-17 season. The MSP fixed by the Government for 2017-18 provides adequate return over its cost of production including family labour (A2+FL) of Rs 1327 per quintal for Odisha as estimated by Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP),” the letter reads.
The Union Ministry’s letter was in response to memorandum submitted by BJDKS at different blocks of Sambalpur district addressed to the President of India seeking enhancement of MSP of paddy.
The Ministry has explained that the Government fixes MSPs for major agricultural crops including paddy on the recommendations of the CACP, views of the concerned State governments and Central Ministries/Departments and other relevant factors while adding that while formulating its recommendations on price policy, CACP considers a number of factors including cost of production, price trends in market, effect on cost of living etc.
Rubbing salt to injury the letter says “The objective of the Government’s price policy is to ensure remunerative prices to farmers by offering to procure their produce at MSP. However, farmers are free to sell their produce to the Government procurement agencies at MSP or in the open market as is advantageous to them”.
The letter has further pointed out that the cost of production (A2+FL) includes all paid costs, such as those incurred on account of hired human labour, bullock labour/machine labour (both hired and owned) and rent paid for leased in land besides cash and kind expenses on use of material inputs like seeds, fertilizers, manures, irrigation charges including diesel/electricity for operation of pump sets etc, while clarifying that it also includes imputed value of wages of family labour and depreciation of farm machinery and building.
The letter came as a shot in the arm for the BJD to launch its attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is yet to keep his electoral promise to enhance MSP by one and half times to that of production cost.
Addressing a press meet on the issue, BJD leader Sanjay Das Burma called the Centre’s rejection of demand for enhancing MSP of paddy as ‘most unfortunate’.
He said it’s now abundantly clear that the Centre maintains an ‘anti-Odisha farmer attitude’.
The BJD leader urged the Centre to implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee failing which farmers will give it a befitting reply.
On the other hand, the BJP said the State government should provide bonus to the farmers if it feels that the farmer should get more for its produce and the BJP will welcome that.
“Doesn’t the State government owe some responsibility to the farmers? It should provide bonus to farmers from its own funds as is being done in other states like Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The State is getting much more funds than earlier under the 14th Finance Commission award. So it should spend something for the welfare of the farmers. We will welcome it,” stated BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma in his reactions on the BJD press meet.
It may be mentioned here that the State Assembly had on March 25 last unanimously adopted a resolution recommending the state government to demand Centre for increasing MSP of paddy to Rs 2,930 per quintal.
The House Committee had earlier sought appointments with the Prime Minister on two occasions after the adoption of the unanimous resolution by the Assembly but the PMO had failed to oblige and even had not responded to the letters. Just two days back, House Committee had again met and had decided to seek time from the Prime Minister to meet him and submit its memorandum for hiking MSP of paddy.
It may be recalled here that the Central government on June 20 announced Rs 1,550 per quintal as the MSP of paddy for 2017-18 by hiking it by a meagre Rs 80. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had described the announcement as ‘totally disappointing’.