Are you the one who changed your social media display picture to ‘I Support Farmers’ looking at the protesting farmers’ group camping in the national capital? It is appreciable that you care for farmers. Nevertheless, in that emotional rush, also spare some minutes to reflect how the government supported farmers, Punjab farmers in particular, through its procurement mechanism.
The Contention of the Protesting Farmers
It is evident that apart from Punjab, there is hardly a mass movement against farm laws anywhere in India. In fact, as such there is no such ground for farmers to say that something which was there earlier was taken away from them. Of course, greater scope has been created for the participation of private players, but the APMC system has not been disbanded. So, farmers can continue to sell to their local mandi, or they can enter into an agreement with private companies. The choice is given to farmers.
This leaves us with only one apprehension. Which is that the Minimum Support Price mechanism may wind up. When it comes to Punjab, this should not also be a reason to protest because the Congress-led state government is boasting of a law that surpasses the Central law and claims to assure farmers MSP.
Nevertheless, the Central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself have assured farmers time and again that the MSP will stay. With the government managing an effective Public Distribution System, it is evident that yearly procurements can’t be do away with. Moreover, the numbers speak for themselves and it is the Punjab farmers who are benefitting from the MSP the most.
Punjab Farmers – the Prime Beneficiaries of Central Procurement
The procurement for the Kharif marketing season is underway from September 26, 2020. Paddy being the prime Kharif crop, see who the MSP procurement of the Union government is benefitting the most – Punjab farmers, who have the lion’s share.
With purchase of over 315.87LMTs of paddy up to November 28, 2020 against the last year corresponding purchase of 266.19LMT, it is an increase of 18.66 % over last year. Out of the total purchase of 315.87 LMT, Punjab alone has contributed 202.72 LMT which is 64.18 % of the total procurement.
Even if one goes back to the Rabi season in which wheat is the major procurement item, Punjab farmers are a major beneficiary group there as well.
The Tribune on May 25, 2020 reported that “Procurement of wheat by government agencies this year surpassed last year’s figures of 341.31 Lakh Metric Tonnes (LMT) to touch 341.56 LMT as on May 24.” It further quoted the figures in which Punjab farmers are shown as clear beneficiaries.
Another analysis from Hindustan Times of the same timeline had noted this: “Punjab has procured 12.65 million tonnes of wheat against market arrivals of 12.7 million tonnes, which is 99.5% of total stocks offered by farmers for sale.”
So, when anyone urges the government to support farmers, they must know that the government is already helping the farmers in a comprehensive and practical manner rather than raising slogans or flashing a sticker.
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