Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday demanded that the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat be fixed at Rs.1,500 per quintal by the centre.
Badal, who is the Shiromani Akali Dal president, demanded that the MSP of agricultural produce, including wheat and paddy, be either linked to the overall price index, with an automatic, in-built price-determination mechanism, or the farmers be paid the actual cost of production plus a minimum of 50 percent profit over that.
He said that this was even recommended by the eminent farm scientist and economist, M.S. Swaminathan.
Badal said, in a statement, that demanding a mere bonus of Rs.200 per quintal, as done by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, amounted to playing a "market fraud" on the farmers.
"The basic price must be hiked. Giving bonus only would mean that the MSP on the farm products would remain unchanged even next year, and the agricultural costs and prices would be calculated only with just an annual incremental ratio. This would amount to putting the farmers at great disadvantage with respect to market realities," Badal pointed out.
"Every profession, except that of farmers, gets an automatic annual raise. Farmers are the only ones who have to agitate every year to bring prices of their produce in sync with rising inflation," he added.
He said that the centre should agree to Punjab's demand for a Rs.5,000 crore agricultural diversification grant "to leading farming states like Punjab and Haryana as an investment in long term national security and for providing the much needed market stability to agriculture".
Badal said that farming was no longer remunerative.
"This spells danger for food security in the country. The centre needs to act immediately and provide incentive to the agriculture sector, along the lines of advanced countries like the United States. Otherwise, we are heading towards a serious economic imbalance and a huge and dangerous crisis in the agriculture sector," he said.