Seeking special economic package for the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, a delegation of farmers on Friday evening met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi. The delegation also expressed annoyance over the recent hike of Rs. 65 in the wheat MSP announced by the Centre, terming it a cruel joke with the farmers.
Led by president of Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA) Satnam Singh Beru, the delegation apprised the UPA chief of the ever- increasing input costs in farming.
"The increasing prices of agriculture labour, fertilizer, pesticides and diesel have made the existing minimum support price (MSP) inadequate. The recently announced increase in the MSP was too small," the delegation told Sonia.
The CIFA delegation demanded increase of at least Rs. 300 per quintal in the MSP of wheat.
"During the eight-minute meeting with the UPA chief, we demanded a separate budget for agriculture and immediate implementation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in agriculture," Beru said.
The delegation also sought personal intervention of the UPA chief to implement SS Swaminathan's report.
"We have categorically conveyed to the UPA chief that if the government was trying to discourage wheat farming in Punjab and Haryana, the governments of these states should be compensated with special economic packages," P Chengal Reddy, secretary general of CIFA, who was part of the delegation from Andhra Pradesh, said.
Before meeting Sonia, the delegation also met union finance minister P Chidambaram, demanding that the farmers should be paid directly for their produce and there should be no role of commission agents.
The other members of the delegation were Raghu Nath Patil from Maharashtra, Ajay Singh Tyagi from Uttar Pradesh, Raj Pal Singh from Haryana and Kanhiya Lal from Rajasthan.
"The UPA chief's response to our demand was very sympathetic. She immediately asked her private secretary to forward our memorandum to the ministry of agriculture and assured us all possible co-operation," said the CIFA head.