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Experts: Govt bid to divert attention from farmers' demands

Experts: Govt bid to divert attention from farmers' demands

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo



Tribune News Service

Neeraj Mohan

New Delhi, February 19

The government’s proposal of ensuring procurement of five more crops — maize, cotton, arhar, tur and urad — at the MSP seems to have failed to impress farm experts and leaders, who have termed the move an attempt to divert attention from the core demands of farmers and spark a debate on diversification.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella organisation of 40 farmer unions which is not directly linked to those leading the protests, has rejected this offer and is insisting on nothing less than purchase of all 23 crops, including the above five. Experts said the crops suggested by the government at a meeting with farm leaders in Chandigarh on Sunday were already fetching above-MSP rates.

They termed the government's proposal as an attempt to mislead and divert attention of farmers from the key demand of guaranteed MSP.

Devinder Sharma, food policy and agriculture expert, says, “This offer is just to divert attention from what farmers are demanding. The farmers want MSP, but the government wants to link it to the diversification. The crops they have chosen are already fetching rates above the MSP, but farmers are not showing interest as these crops are not remunerative like paddy and wheat.”

The experts also suggested that more crops like mustard, sugarcane and moong should also be added to the list of crops and the rates should be fixed as per the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations.

“There is MSP for the sunflower seed, but due to lack of buyers, the farmers have to protest every year. Last year, farmers sold the sunflower seed Rs 500 to Rs 700 per quintal below the MSP, after a week-long protests in Kurukshetra,” said Haryana BKU (Charuni) president Gurnam Singh Charuni.

Dr Virender Lathar, former principal scientist at ICAR-IARI, Delhi, said, “The government's proposal of offering MSP only for some crops for five years through the contact farming is misleading and cheating the farming communities. This may also put food security of India at risk.”

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