Will form committee on MSP after assembly polls: Tomar tells RS
New Delhi: The government is committed to forming a panel on Minimum Support Price (MSP) and the Election Commission has said it can be done after the polls are over, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
While announcing the repeal of three farm laws in November last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to set up a committee to discuss the farmers’ demand for a legal guarantee on MSP.
Replying to a supplementary question during the Question Hour, Tomar said the government had written to the Election Commission in view of assembly elections in five states.
The minister said the matter of forming the Committee on MSP is under consideration of the ministry and will be formed after the elections are over.
“The entire country knows that the prime minister has announced the formation of a committee to make crop diversification, natural farming and MSP effective and transparent.The government is committed to the announcement made by the PM. The matter is under consideration of the ministry,” Tomar said.
The minister’s remarks came day after the Samyukta Kisan Morcha accused the government of not fulfilling its promise of setting up of the committee on MSP.
The Morcha also announced its Mission UP asking voters to punish the BJP for reneging on its promises to farmers.
Tomar said since the elections are on, the government had written to the EC for its approval.
“The EC’s reply has come. It has said that the committee should be formed after the elections conclude,” the minister said.
Elections are scheduled in five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa and Punjab.
In his written reply, Tomar said, “As per the changing requirements of the country to change the cropping pattern, to make MSP more effective and transparent, and to encourage natural farming method of agriculture, the process of setting up a committee is under process.”
“At present, in view of the assembly elections in some states, the process of concurrence of the Election Commission for the formation of committee is under progress,” he said.
Replying to another query by Prasanna Acharya (BJD) who asked if the government is considering bringing a bill in this House to give a legal guarantee to MSP, Tomar said prior to 2018, there was no mechanism to define MSP and make farming profitable.
In fact, fixing MSP at 50 per cent higher than the cost of production was one of the 14 recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee that was rejected by the inter-ministry panel then, he said.
However, Prime Minister Modi accepted that recommendation in 2018-19 and started fixing higher MSP in the interest of farmers, he added.
With regard to bringing a law on giving MSP guarantee, the Minister said a committee on MSP will be set up after assembly polls in some states.
“Whatever the recommendations the committee will make, the government will examine them,” he said.
The Minister also informed that the MSP is an administrative decision and is being implemented for many years across the country, he said.
Noting that the government’s MSP procurement has increased in the last seven years, Tomar said, “MSP has been doubled from the earlier times. In the current budget too, about Rs 2.37 lakh crore provision has been made for procurement.”
Replying to another query by Kanakmedal Ravindra Kumar (TDP) that if the Centre will take steps to stop farmers’ suicides in Andhra Pradesh due to lower procurement and MSP, Tomar said, “Farmers should get the right price for his produce. The government is making efforts towards that…”
Asserting that the government is committed towards procurement, he said ensuring MSP to farmers is one aspect, while helping them make farming profitable is another aspect for which they need to be supported.
Besides increasing procurement, the government is also implementing schemes such as PM-KISAN, setting up FPOs and infrastructure fund provisions so that farmers can save crops after harvesting, he said.
The minister informed that the government has been buying more wheat and paddy at MSP from farmers. Even pulses and oilseeds are being procured. If any state wants to supply the cereals via PDS, that state would be given permission to do so.
Responding to another supplementary from Sukhram Singh Yadav (SP), Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary said the government has already increased the MSP by 1.5 times and has increased the number of crops from 12 to 22 now on which MSP is given to farmers to help them increase their income.
He said earlier the MSP was a little above the cost inputs, but prime minister Modi has ensured that it is 1.5 times of that given in 2013-14.
BJD leader Sasmit Patra, in his supplementary, asked how many recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee have been accepted and implemented by the government so far.
To which, MoS said the Swaminathan committee, constituted in 2004, had submitted its report in 2006. In 2007, an inter-ministerial panel was set up and it accepted 201 recommendations out of 215 made by the committee.
“The current government has accepted 200 recommendations and started working on them,” he said.
The Minister further said that the Swaminathan committee had recommended MSP to be fixed 50 per cent higher than the cost of production but this was not accepted by the inter-ministerial panel then.
“However, our government accepted that recommendation. And now procurement is being undertaken at MSP that is 50 per cent higher than the cost of production,” he said.
The Minister said the MSP guarantee, promotion of organic and zero budget farming, unification of PDS and setting up of women farmers groups were rejected by the inter-ministerial panel.
He said, however, the current government has accepted them and launched Paramparagat Krishi Yojana and set up farmer producer organisations (FPOs) for training women farmers.
A provision to set up Genome banks in every state as recommended by the committee has been made in the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, he added.