Tuesday, February 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Reduce MSP, opine experts
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 17
The government should reduce the minimum support price for wheat and paddy which would encourage farmers to diversify their crops, agricultural experts said here today.

“The present MSP for wheat and rice, does not encourage farmers to diversify, as he is assured of the minimum price they would get for the produce,” Prof Abhijit Sen, former chairman of the Agriculture Price Reform Committee, told The Tribune. The present MSP for these two crops is much higher than the prevailing market price of wheat and rice, he added.

The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in his address to the joint session of Parliament called for a review of the present agricultural policy, which impeded crop diversification.

“There is an urgent need to review current policies, which have impeded crop diversification, and led to unsustainable food subsidies, and to ensure crop neutral support to our farmers without excessive procurement,” he said.

Professor Sen said the government should, in initial phase, come out with a districtwise subsidy for one crop other than wheat and rice for rabi and kharif season. “The subsidy for a crop in each district should be different and should be given only if crop diversification takes place in certain hectres in the district,” he said.

Stating that the high MSP for wheat and rice has resulted in the farmers of Punjab stick to these two crops, the agricultural expert said “the government should encourage farmers to go in for crop diversification in a planned manner.” Asked whether the assured price for certain crop would result in similar MSP scenario, he said “subsidy cannot be altogether removed. Farmers would go in for those crops where he is assured of certain price.”

He, however, stated that future market would not result in crop diversification if one goes by the international experience. Another agricultural expert from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, agreeing with Professor Sen, said complete disbanding of the MSP would drastically affect the farmers.

He said the government should encourage the farmers to diversify the crops by providing supportive mechanism, which would also eliminate the possibility of exploitation under the garb of market forces.


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