New Delhi/Mumbai/Chandigarh/Kolkata: The central government on Wednesday raised the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of crops by varied degrees, ranging from a sharp Rs.275 for some pulses to a moderate Rs.50 in case of paddy and a small Rs.15 for maize for this year's kharif season.
The new support prices will be effective from October 1 this year, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced.
The new prices triggered mixed reaction among political parties and farmers' bodies, with many of them complaining that the National Democratic Alliance government has failed to keep its pre-poll promise of implementing the Swaminathan Commission recommendation of providing a hike of 50 percent over the cost of production.
Pulses got the best deal in the new prices announced during the day.
Both 'tur' as well as 'urad' prices were raised by Rs.275 while that for 'moong' by Rs.250 per quintal.
Now, the MSP of both 'tur' and 'urad' will be Rs.4,625 per quintal while for 'moong' the MSP will be Rs.4,850 -- that is, a farmer would get a minimum assured price of Rs.46.25 for his kg of 'tur' and 'urad' pulses, and Rs.48.50 for a kg of moong.
The government said that in view of large surplus of cereals, in contrast to huge deficit in pulses, the cabinet decided to give a bonus of Rs.200 per quintal for pulses over and above the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
The MSP of paddy has gone up by Rs.50 to Rs.1,410 per quintal, while the rates of hybrid and Maldandi variety of 'jowar' were increased by Rs.40 a quintal. A quintal equals 100 kg.
MSPs of 'ragi' and sesamum were hiked by Rs.100 per quintal to Rs.1,650 and Rs.4,700 respectively.
Prices of both medium and long staple ranges of cotton were increased by Rs.50 to Rs.3,800 and Rs.4,100, respectively.
Bajra and maize saw even less increase in MSPs. Bajra prices saw an upward revision of Rs.25 per quintal to Rs.1,275, while for maize the increase was by Rs.15 per quintal to Rs.1,324 for 2015-16.
Interestingly, the MSP for black variety of soyabean oil remains unchanged at Rs.2,500.
The Centre said the increase was expected to send out a strong signal to farmers to increase acreage and invest for increase in productivity of pulses.
Under the MSP system, the Centre purchases the produce from farmers at the declared price, thereby preventing distress sale.
Due to lower procurement from the eastern region of the country, the cabinet directed for necessary arrangements to strengthen procurement of agricultural produce from that part of the country.
Against the backdrop of a forecast of deficit rains, the government said it was "fully prepared to meet contingency arising out of any shortfall in monsoon. The contingency plans for 650 districts will be operationalised depending on progress of the monsoon".
Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal partially hailed the decision to hike the MSP of paddy (rice) by Rs.50, or 3.7 percent, to Rs.1,410 per quintal.
"We partially welcome the Centre's decision as the meagre hike in the MSP has not enthused the paddy growers at all," Harcharan Bains, advisor to the chief minister on national affairs and media, told IANS.
Official sources said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had sought an MSP of Rs.2,000 per quintal for paddy.
The revised MSP for cotton was labelled as another 'jumla' (empty promise) by a prominent farmers watchdog body in Maharashtra.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised before the elections that he would give the farmers full cost plus 50 percent extra. By that calculation, today farmers spend Rs.6,000 per quintal on inputs, so they should have got MSP Rs.9,000 per quintal," Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari told IANS.
Terming it 'jumla', Tiwari said that instead of assuaging the agrarian crises, the new MSP is only going to worsen it, especially with forecasts of a poor monsoon this year and farmers will now wonder what to cultivate in their farmlands.
He said that of the total 1,240 farmers suicides in Maharashtra in 2015, a majority of them were cotton farmers and despite the new MSP declared on Wednesday, the trend may continue unabated.
In West Bengal, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) peasants wing All India Kisan Sabha attacked the NDA regime for not going by the Swaminathan Commission report.
"The Rs.50 per quintal increase in the MSP of paddy may appear good. But if you take into account the increase in the cost of production, it is nothing.
"And merely announcing the revised MSPs will not benefit the farmers. The government should either purchase the crops directly from the farmer through bodies like the Food Corporation of India or cooperatives," All India Kisan Sabha state secretary Nripen Chowdhury told IANS in Kolkata.