Terming the hike in support price of paddy and cotton as "inadequate", Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday said it was "anti-farmer" and demoralising for the agriculture sector.
Expressing disappointment over the hike in MSP of paddy and cotton by just Rs 60 and Rs 100 per quintal, respectively, by the Centre, Badal said the state government had demanded support price of Rs 1,800 and Rs 4,674 per quintal, respectively, for both the commodities.
The cabinet committee on economic affairs approved a hike of Rs 60 and Rs 100 in the MSP of paddy and cotton to Rs 1,310 and Rs 3,700 per quintal, respectively for the current kharif marketing season on Thursday.
In a statement here, Badal said this move of the Congress-led UPA government would further demoralise the farmers as agriculture was no more a profitable venture due to squeezed margins owing to constant hike in the cost of agricultural inputs like diesel, seeds, fertilisers and pesticides thereby further accentuating the woes of the beleaguered farmers.
Terming the decision as "anti-farmer and cruel joke with the peasantry", Badal said the UPA government had not only rubbed salt to the wounds of the farmers but also gave a major setback to the hardworking and resilient farming community which could put our national food security in peril.
Taking a dig at the Centre, Badal accused the UPA government of double standard and said it was forcing Punjab to go for crop diversification and deliberately denying the farmers of their justified right of remunerative MSP on the alternative crops like cotton, maize and Basmati.
The chief minister said he had personally taken up the issue of ensuring permanent procurement mechanism for these crops with union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh several times.
The issue was raised to motivate the farmers of the state for the cultivation of cotton, maize and basmati with the focused approach towards crop diversification as well as to save farmers from the sheer exploitation at the hands of the traders due to lack of assured marketing facility.
He said the state government had already demanded MSP of Rs 1,700 and Rs 3,500 per quintal for maize and basmati.