The leaders of the ruling BJP-JJP government in Haryana might have witnessed several protests by angry farmers during the year long agitation, but the state government claims that it is already procuring highest number of crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP).
Haryana Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister J P Dalal told The Indian Express that the state government purchases as many as 11 crops at MSP, while 19 vegetables and fruits are purchased under Bhavantar Bharpai Scheme, which was framed on the lines of MSP four years back.
Apart from the three farm laws, a legal guarantee of MSP of crops is also prominent demand of the agitator farmers. The Centre currently announces the MSPs of 23 crops.
Dalal said: “Haryana purchases highest number of crops (11) in the country at the rate of MSP. We ensure 100 per cent procurement of sugarcane that also at highest rates in the country.”
According to officials, other crops like wheat, paddy, maize, groundnuts, mustard, wheat, pulses, bajra, gram and sunflowers are procured by the state agencies at the rate of MSP, while cotton’s procurement is done at MSP through Cotton Corporation of India (CCI).
Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board’s former Chief Marketing Enforcement Officer Rajkumar Beniwal said: “In India, Haryana is the first state which procures almost all grains at MSP while neighbouring Punjab and Rajasthan lags behind.”
Moving to address farm distress, the Haryana government in 2018 had implemented Bhavantar Bharpai Scheme which was meant to offer “input cost” for four crops – potato, onion, cabbage and tomato. Till now, as many as 19 vegetables and fruits have been covered under the scheme. With this scheme, the government wants to address seasonal fluctuations in prices of key vegetables.
Horticulture Department Director, Arjun Singh Saini, said: “Under this scheme, in past three years, we have provided financial help of Rs 10.35 crore to 4,200 farmers when their produces failed to get appropriate prices in the market. As many 60,000 farmers have registered themselves for the scheme. For 2021-21, we have target to register 1.2 lakh acres of land under the scheme so that the farmers may get benefit under the scheme in case of price crash.”
Dalal added that this year the state government covered bajra crop too under the scheme.
“We transferred Rs 400 crore to the accounts of farmers in lieu of price crash without purchasing their crop of bajra,” said JP Dalal. Explaining reasons for non-procurement of the crop, an official said being a perishable crop it’s difficult to store bajra for more than three months.
However, BKU leader Rakesh Kumar Bains said: “Despite these schemes, farmers face problems in selling their crops because of complicated framework of these schemes. The officials keep imposing conditions on the procurement of crops like a particular cap on the procurement of paddy per acre.”
The farm unions want the Modi government to enact legislation conferring mandatory status to MSP, rather than just being an indicative or desired price. But a senior BJP leader from Haryana explained hurdles in enacting a law to ensure MSP.
“We are already offering such prices for several crops. Had we been a regional party like Akali Dal, we would have made a law for the same in Haryana. We are a national party. All state government are not as prosperous as Haryana in terms of revenues. If we guarantee the MSP, then it will open a pandora box for rest of the country as the provision of MSP needs big budget support.”
Justifying the reasons for purchase of crops at MSP, senior BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni argued: “The government should ensure that the crops of farmers are not purchased at the prices which are lesser than of MSP or the prices meant for import of these items. This is not only important to save the farming community but to ensure stability of prices and prevention from black marketing of items like edible oil and pulses. A fair price to the crops of farmers will also decrease dependence on other countries for such items.”