New Delhi: With crucial assembly elections in key Hindi-speaking states just weeks away and Lok Sabha polls scheduled in 2019, the Centre on Wednesday announced a 6 per cent hike in wheat support price to Rs 1,840 per quintal and up to 21 per cent increase in other rabi crops, a move that will give farmers Rs 62,635 crore additional income and help contain their simmering discontent over high input cost and low returns.
The decision, which was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came a day after a massive two-days protest by farmers right at the doorstep of the national capital, seeking high support price and loan waiver.
While the farmers, who after being pounded by teargas shells and water cannons for two days, had left for their homes on Tuesday night, without getting any assurance from the Centre on any of their demands, the Cabinet’s decision to effect a hike in rabi crops support price came on Wednesday evening, as it was mindful of the fact that rebuffing the farmers could prove counter-productive in an election year.
Key states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh will have assembly elections in November this year. The decision will help farmers earn an additional income of Rs 62,635 crore (including both the increased support price on rabi crops as well as the recent hike announced in kharif crops MSP a few weeks ago by the Centre), Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after the meeting.
Recently the government had announced higher MSP for Kharif (summer) crops, to fulfil its promise of giving farmers 50 per cent more price than their cost of production and in the process, doubling their income.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said MSPs for all Rabi crops are higher than the cost of production ranging from 50-112 per cent. The CCEA approved a Rs 105 per quintal hike in wheat MSP to Rs 1,840 for Rabi season of 2018-19 crop year (July-June).The MSP of barley has been increased by Rs 30 per quintal to Rs 1,440 per quintal, while that of gram (Chana) by Rs 220 per quintal to Rs 4,620 per quintal. Masur’s MSP has been raised by Rs 225 to Rs 4,475 per quintal, while the support price of rapeseed/mustard has been hiked by Rs 200 to Rs 4,200 per quintal. Safflower MSP has been increased by Rs 845 per quintal to Rs 4,945 per quintal.
“The farmer friendly initiative will give additional return to the farmers of Rs 62,635 crore by way of increasing MSP of notified crops to at least 50 percent return over cost of production and will aid in doubling farmers’ income,” an official statement said. For wheat, the cost of production is Rs 866 per quintal and MSP is Rs 1,840 per quintal, thereby giving a return of 112.5 per cent to farmers.
In case of gram, the MSP is higher by 75 per cent than the cost of production. Masur support price is up 76.7 per cent from cost of production, while mustard MSP is nearly 90 per cent more than the cost of production.
Splinter group stages protest
Scores of farmers from Uttar Pradesh protested at the Delhi-Noida border raising a host of demands including loan waivers and pension, and later agitated at the Jantar Mantar in the heart of the national capital Wednesday afternoon.
The development comes around six hours after thousands of farmers, on a call by the BKU, “successfully culminated” their ‘Kisan Kranti Yatra’ at the Kisan Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna here after a 10-day march that had started at Tikait Ghat in Haridwar. A senior Delhi Police officer said around 200 farmers were protesting at the Jantar Mantar. The farmers under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Bhanu), headquartred in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, reached Delhi in the afternoon after protesting near the Noida entry point on the road to Mayur Vihar.
“We are protesting the anti-farmer policies of the central government,” Ajab Singh Kasana, national vice president of BKU (Bhanu), said, adding scores of farmers from UP have joined the stir....