Date & Time: 2017-12-21 01:11:50
NEW DELHI: The government is giving top priority to reaching out to more farmers and directly buying grains from them, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said. Procurement prices of wheat, mustard, chana etc have already been raised by 6-11% and the immediate focus would be to make sure more farmers can sell to state agencies, he told ET.
"We are working along with state governments that more procurement centres are opened to ensure farmers get the minimum support price (MSP)," Paswan said.
"MSP for this rabi season's crops like wheat, chana has been increased by 6% to 11%. Our effort is to increase and double farmer's income. To help them we are doing a number of things apart from increasing MSP for crops."
Focus on Boosting Rural Economy
Following the recent Gujarat elections, in which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party lost support in rural areas, the government has said it will seek to address the concerns of farmers. That's likely to see an intensified focus on boosting the rural economy in the runup to the general election in 2019, before which several key states will be going to the polls.
Officials in the food ministry said states such as West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are also increasingly focusing on direct procurement of produce from farmers as Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh had one earlier.
To ensure that farmers get the benefit of MSP fixed by the Centre on important commodities grown in a particular season, Paswan said state governments have been asked to set up more centres and step up procurement.
In the past, the government relaxed quality norms in terms of moisture content for grain such as wheat and rice during procurement drives, Paswan said.
"These measures, at a time when farmers are in distress, are being undertaken to ensure remunerative prices are given to them for their produce," he said. Food ministry officials said MSP has been increasing annually with a thrust on pulses and oilseeds.
"Annually, the MSP for kharif pulses has increased by over 7% to 8% and for rabi pulses it's been over 10% annually," an official said. "Also, wheat prices have seen an annual 6% increase and 4.5% in rice MSP."
Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh had told ET on Monday that the government will intensify farmer welfare schemes and ensure their effective implementation as well as the payment of MSP.
"Our initiatives to double farmer income and increase production will gain more speed," he had said. "Some states are not doing enough for procurement and giving support prices. The Centre will keep putting pressure that farmers should get MSP."
The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has suggested legislation giving farmers the right to sell at MSP to instill confidence among them when it comes to procurement. MSP is fixed based on the CACP's recommendation.
"In order to strengthen MSP operations, awareness about MSP needs to be created so as to ensure that farmers meet the requisite quality norms," said a food ministry official. "Strong procurement operations need to be expanded to neglected regions, particularly eastern and north-eastern regions."