Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday outright rejected the minimum support price (MSP) of cotton announced by the Centre describing it as "woefully inadequate and unjustified".
Badal has demanded refixing the MSP at Rs 4,420 per quintal to offset the recent massive increase in farm inputs.
The Centre on Friday fixed Rs 3,600 as MSP of short-staple cotton, Rs 3,900 as MSP of long-staple cotton and the MSP of cotton produced in Punjab was fixed at Rs 3,800 per quintal.
The chief minister said the MSP of Rs 3,800 per quintal on cotton, which was normally produced in Punjab, for the current rabi marketing season was much below the expectation of the farmers and termed it as a cruel joke with the already distressed cotton growers.
Badal said the non-remunerative MSP coupled with anti-farmer policies of Centre was primarily responsible for the slowdown of the agricultural growth. He said his government had been constantly pleading the case of Punjab's beleaguered peasantry that was in a shambles and demanded MSP of at least Rs 4,420 per quintal of cotton from the Centre to give the much-needed boost to the cotton production in the Malwa belt, thereby motivating the farmers to go for crop diversification.
Badal lamented that it was a paradoxical situation that the MSP announced by the Centre was far below the price at which the country had been importing cotton from various countries adding that there was hardly any justification to deprive the local cotton growers of the same price.
Badal rued the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) was not providing price support operations aggressively in all 45 mandis across the state which resulted in the exploitation of cotton growers as they were subjected to distress sale of even Rs 3,600 per quintal which was below the market price.
He pointed out that CCI was operating merely in 27 designated mandis and the Centre had paid no heed to the Punjab government's repeated requests to direct it to operate all the mandis to ensure remunerative returns to the farmers.
Badal also apprehended that the prices were likely to be depressed further when the arrival started peaking up during December and January. He said it was unfortunate that the prevailing market prices of cotton were much below than the prices received by the farmers two years ago when it ranged between Rs 5,500 and Rs 6,500 per quintal.