Food corporation not procuring wheat at MSP in Delhi, alleges Rai
Senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday alleged that the Food Corporation of India (FCI), which comes under the central government, has not yet opened counters for procurement of wheat at Delhi’s grain markets at the minimum support price (MSP) – an allegation that was denied by the Union ministry of food and public distribution and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
MSP is the assured price at which the government buys major farm produce to give farmers assured returns for their yield. It also acts as a base price for private traders. MSP applies to 23 crops, which include paddy and wheat.
“FCI has not opened a single counter for wheat procurement in Delhi, yet it is making false claims of purchasing the crops at MSP rates from April 1. Despite three letters of plea addressed to the FCI, it has not opened its wheat procurement counters, forcing farmers to sell their wheat below MSP through commissioning agents. The central government determines the MSP and the FCI purchases, but the BJP is falsely accusing the Delhi government of not buying wheat at MSP,” said Rai, who is in charge of the agriculture department in Delhi.
“This is the reality of the Prime Minister’s assurances of buying crops at MSP. This is why it is imperative to have a law for MSP. It is our demand that the Central government begin purchasing wheat at MSP from Najafgarh and Narela Mandi, and also investigate and act against those making false claims of shops opening in Delhi from April 1,” said Rai, expressing solidarity with farmer groups who have gathered at Delhi’s borders against three contentious farm laws passed in the Parliament and demanding a new law concerning MSP.
However, a spokesperson of the Union ministry of food and public distribution dismissed the allegation and said, “The contentions of Delhi state government are not true.In fact the FCI Delhi region is fully prepared to procure wheat from farmers of Delhi at three centres -- FSD Mayapuri, FSD Narela and APMC Najafgarh mandi,which have been completely operational from April 1, 2021. Till date, 158 quintals of wheat from FSD Narela has been purchased by FCI Delhi region.”
The Delhi BJP said in a press statement, “FCI has started the purchase of wheat at MSP in Narela from April 5. On the other hand, farmers in Delhi are still looking forward to the fulfilment of two promises made by the Kejriwal government. First, the payment of 50% over and above MSP to farmers and, second, free electricity for irrigation lines. Tomorrow (Thursday), Delhi BJP’s Kisan Morcha will hold a demonstration near the chief minister’s residence demanding payment of 50% above MSP and free electricity for farmers.”
Delhi has around 800 hectares of agricultural land, show government records. Most of it is located in the western, northern and north-west peripheries of the city.