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Centre’s MSP for farmers much lower than Maharashtra govt’s proposal, say experts

The difference between the proposed and announced prices for some crops is as high as 70-80%.

mumbai Updated: Jul 06, 2018 17:04 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Surendra P Gangan
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra farmers,Maharashtra government,minimum support price
The differences between the prices can also be attributed to faulty procedure followed by states while determining production cost. (HT File Photo/Used for representational purpose)

Agricultural experts have slammed the Maharashtra government for the significant difference between the minimum support price (MSP) that state had proposed on the basis of the input cost and the one the Centre has announced. The difference between the proposed and announced rates, for some of the crops, go as high as 70-80%. Additionally, the figures do not match for any of the crops.

Meanwhile, the Centre has claimed that MSP has been hiked to 96% and 65% of the production costs of bajra and arhar , respectively. However, MSP announced for these two crops per quintal is ₹1,950 and ₹5,675 respectively, in contrast to the proposed ₹3,485 and ₹5,722.

The MSP per quintal for paddy has been fixed at ₹1,750 against the state’s proposed ₹3,270; ₹4,890 for groundnut against the proposed ₹9,420; and ₹5,450 for cotton against the proposed ₹7,272.

MSP is fixed by the central government after arriving at an average of the prices proposed by various states. This poses a problem as input costs are higher in Maharashtra, said experts.

“More than 80% of the land under cultivation is non-irrigated land. Besides, the high cost of labour and low percentage of mechanised farming in the state leads to a rise in the production cost, compared to other states like Punjab and Haryana. Moreover, our acreage is low compared to other states. For instance, our acreage of wheat is 8-10 quintal per acre against 20-22 quintals in states like Punjab. In such a scenario, common MSP for all states is unjustified,” said farm activist Vijay Jawandhia.

According to Ajit Nawale of the All India Kisan Sabha, the central government’s diktat to do away with the bonuses given by the state on MSP makes matters worse. Until last year, the Maharashtra government has been bearing the cost of bonuses, ranging from ₹75 to ₹425 per quintal on the procurement of arhar, moong, soybean and other produce in order to bridge the gap between prices.

The differences between the prices can also be attributed to faulty procedure followed by states while determining production cost.

“In an attempt to obtain higher MSP, state governments tend to exaggerate the cost by calculating the seed prices twice, considering the need to resow in the case of a dry spell. At times, labour and rent costs are also inflated to arrive at higher production costs. This leads to vast differences between the states’ proposed prices,” said an official from the agriculture department.

Bijay Kumar, additional chief secretary, agriculture department, said, “This time the central government had set the scientific parameters for determination of MSP unlike the routine process. The average taken for the MSP was based on the weightage given to the area under cultivation, for a particular crop in a particular state. This means the weightage to our prices proposed for the arhar was high as our area was huge comparing other states. In case of such crops the difference is lesser.”

While some stakeholders have proposed state-wise determination of MSP, experts and government officials have opposed this as it might lead to procurement of produce from neighbouring states with higher prices.

First Published: Jul 06, 2018 13:17 IST