Farmer leaders seek MSP determination based on realistic costs during pre-budget consultations with India’s Finance Minister

Farmer leaders and agriculture experts asked the finance ministry to ensure that the minimum support prices of various crops be raised to capture the realistic cost of production, as they participated in the first pre-Budget consultation meeting.

In a virtual meeting with ministers of state in the finance ministry, the stakeholders representing the farm sector also pushed for higher diesel subsidies and allowing new technologies, including genetically modified organism (GMO), in a number of crops. Top bureaucrats of the finance ministry also took part in the customary pre-Budget meeting.

This was the first such high-level meeting between leaders and experts from the farm sector and the finance ministry since the repeal of the three contentious farm laws late last month. Farmer leaders are now demanding that the MSP-based procurement drive be legalised and its coverage substantially widened.

Sitharaman, who was scheduled to meet the farm sector experts, couldn’t attend the meeting, as she was caught up in Parliament proceedings.

Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations chief adviser P Chengal Reddy sought further rise in priority sector lending to the agriculture sector. The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices, which suggests MSPs for various crops, be granted full autonomy so that it can assess the realistic cost of production and recommend the benchmark prices on that basis, Reddy said.

He also wanted the government to allow technologies, including GMO, in a time-bound manner to raise productivity of crops. Calling for a reduction in taxes on pesticides, Reddy also demanded that farmers be given adequate quantity of diesel per season for harvesting and transplanting at 50% subsidy.

Krishak Samaj Chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar said it’s time for the government to “fund a transition in green revolution states to ensure India’s nutrition security”. The pre-Budget consultations come amid fresh concerns about a new Covid strain, although the impact of the Omicron variety is expected to be less severe amid a surge in the vaccination drive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *