M A I N   N E W S

MSP for paddy raised by Rs 40 per quintal
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The minimum support price (MSP) for paddy for the Kharif season has been raised by Rs 40 to Rs 650 a quintal, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar announced in the Rajya Sabha today.

The “CACP (Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices) had recommended the procurement prices for paddy at Rs 600 per quintal, today it was fixed at Rs 610. Now I am announcing the MSP of Rs 650 per quintal’,” Mr Pawar said, winding up a three-day debate on farmers’ suicides and the demand to increase MSP of foodgrain.

The Agriculture Minister also asserted that the government was confident of meeting the foodgrain target for the kharif season on top of an almost normal monsoon.

Mr Pawar admitted that farmers’ complaint was genuine on less procurement price as cost of produce went up with diesel price hike.

Expressing concern over the increase in suicides among farmers, Mr Pawar said there were so many factors that compelled the farmers to take this extreme step.

Sometimes there was crop failure, monsoon failure, inadequate prices, heavy interest paid to moneylenders.

He pointed out that out
of one lakh people who committed suicide in India every year, 16 per cent were farmers.

Pointing out that the incidents of suicide were not new, but for the last two years, they had registered a sharp increase, he said the problem could not be understood without taking a comprehensive look at the state of agriculture.

While skirting the issue of recent wheat imports, Mr Pawar said agricultural imports had to be need-based as globalisation was opening fresh avenues for farm exports in a big way for the country.

He asserted that the government was in favour of policy of need-based imports and exports in the agriculture sector and that it would also encourage genetically modified crops in seeds to overcome the problem of overuse of agricultural land.

Mr Pawar announced chalking out a comprehensive agriculture policy to look into balanced land use, diminishing ground water crises in foodgrain growing heartlands of Punjab and Haryana and to provide relief to farmers, a high-level experts. committee had been constituted.

The committee, headed by leading agriculturist Radhakrishnan, would submit its report by November 30 this year, he said.

The Committee, Mr Pawar said, would specifically look into the demand of loan waiver by the Government in a bid to check indebtedness of farmers, who were committing suicides unable to pay back loans.

“The Radhakrishnan Committee is going to look into the demand of loan waiver for farmers,” he said.

The minister said the committee would suggest measures to increase investments in agriculture which over the years were dwindling.

Mr Pawar said if the country wanted to sustain the present eight to 10 per cent growth rate, the agricultural growth had to be stepped up to four per cent.

He said after remaining at an all-time low of 1.3 per cent, the growth rate this year had touched three per cent.

The minister further said out of the projected 8-10 per cent GDP growth at least half of it should come from agricultural sector to reduce the ongoing distress and economic hardships faced by farmers.

Mr Pawar said unless electricity reached villages farmers would not be able to produce properly as 60 per cent of the land was dependent on nature and 40 per cent on irrigation.

Until the irrigation projects were taken care of, the situation could not change.

He said, 1,248 projects were incomplete and some had even started 20 years ago with estimated cost of Rs 20 crore and the cost escalation had gone beyond Rs 200 crore today.

He suggested the farmers to go for organic farming which improved the texture of land, and to increase production using new varieties of seeds.

Transgenic seeds needed many years to develop. The US, China and Mexico had been using 80 to 90 per cent of Bt cotton seeds and yielding good crops as this seed increased production and needed less spraying, if the land was well irrigated, Mr Pawar said.




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