Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao. (Twitter)
Hyderabad: Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on behalf of crores of farmers in the country to ensure that the cost of fertilisers were maintained at the present level and additional cost, if any, should be absorbed by the Centre so that farmers were not burdened.
In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, the Chief Minister said, "By raising the fertiliser prices, increasing fuel prices and faulty fixation of MSP (minimum support price) for crops, the Centre is not only contributing to increase in the cost of cultivation of farmers but also defaulting on the promise of doubling farmers' income by 2022."
These policies coupled with the threat of proposed reforms in the agriculture electricity distribution sector by fixing power consumption meters were causing great deal of anxiety to the hardworking farmers of the country, the Chief Minister noted.
Reminding the announcement made by the BJP-led government at the Centre in February 2016 that it would double the farmers' income in six years by 2022, the Chief Minister said, "Despite passage of over five years, no specific or structured programme has been initiated towards this direction."
Contrary to the policy of doubling farmers' income, to the dismay of one and all, input costs were doubled in the last five years due to which the income of farmers had further declined causing distress to farmers, the Chief Minister added.
"The Centre has turned a blind eye to the increasing prices of fertilisers in the last six years while encouraging the states to take up campaigns to reduce urea and DAP consumption. It is sad to note that the prices of two most consumed fertilisers 28.28.0 and MoP (muriate of potash) have increased by more than 50 per cent and 100 per cent respectively in the last 90 days," the Chief Minister pointed out. Rao found fault with the Centre in choosing to pass on the burden to farmers instead of bearing the increasing import costs of raw materials and maintaining the prices of fertilisers at an affordable level.
"You are also aware that the fuel consumption in the agriculture sector has increased manifold due to promotion of farm mechanisation by states. Even in the case of petrol/diesel prices, indiscriminate imposition of cess across the board despite no increase in import price of crude oil has added great distress to farmers. Due to the faulty polices of the Centre in fuel and fertilisers pricing, farmers are bearing the brunt," the Chief Minister told Modi in his letter.
All these steps were causing great deal of anxiety to farmers that the seven-decade old fertiliser subsidy regime under the purview of the Centre was being modified against the interests of the farming community of India, the Chief Minister opined. Rao stated that the Centre's claim that MSP for crops was pegged at 150 per cent of the costs of crop was misleading. "While accepting Prof MS Swaminathan headed National Commission on Farmers' recommendations to peg MSP for farm produce at 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production, essential costs of farm rentals and cost of fixed capital assets were deliberately excluded while calculating the cost of crop to farmers," he said.
Further, apart from announcing MSP and procuring small quantities of crops, the Centre had no reliable mechanism of ensuring price guarantee to farmers for their crops. It was also noticed that under the guise of pegging FAQ standards at global levels, farmers were denied MSP prices and compelled to sell at lower prices, thereby making agriculture non-remunerative, the Chief Minister added.