One among the many false pretexts with which the Opposition and certain organisations have been trying to fuel farmer protests is by spreading falsehoods and scaremongering the future of Minimum Support Price (MSP); by insinuating that the MSP will eventually end and Government may stop procuring from farmers at MSP, attempts are being made to turn the farmer sentiment against the Government .
This fear was busted back in 2020 when the Government ensured significant procurement at MSP in the Kharif marketing season.
Now the Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) procurement of wheat once again shows the commitment of the to continue to procure food grains from farmers at MSP.
Rabi season 2021-22 has already started; In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the season started from 15th March 2021, in Haryana and Delhi from 1st April 2021, in Punjab from 10th April and in Bihar, it will commence from 20th April 2021.
FCI and State agencies will be operating more than 19,000 centres across the country.
So far, the Government has procured 64.7 LMT of wheat worth Rs. 12,800 crore at MSP of Rs. 1,975 per quintal, against an estimated target of 427 LMT this year. In comparison, in 2020, the record procurement was at 389 LMT; however, till 14th April, it was just 60 tonnes, whereas 12.81 LMT was procured during the corresponding period in the RMS 2019-20.
MSP – Direct Payment to Farmers
In Punjab, wheat procurement started from April 10, and the agencies have bought 10.56 lakh tonnes of wheat in only five days.
This time around, there is a major change in procurement process from Punjab.
Till now, the money for the purchase of farmers’ produce was given to arhtiyas, who are the commission agents and control the local markets.
From this year onwards, the Centre has ensured that procuring agencies should transfer the money directly to the bank accounts of farmers. Meanwhile, arhtiyas are receiving their commission separately through the e-mode of payment.
For more details on this issue you may refer to our earlier piece Arhtiyas in Punjab Coercing Farmers to Sign Blank Cheques Shows Who is Afraid of Farm Reforms.
No Wastage Issue
Officials have also addressed fears related to wastage of procured grains, which sometimes rot due to inadequate storage facilities.
In 2019 & 2020, damage was 0.006% and 0.004% of the total storage respectively. Officer from the Food and Public Distribution Department has said that India is pursuing a storage modernisation plan to improve the storage infrastructure in India & increase storage capacity by 100 LMT. By 2024-25, it will be possible to store stocks in modern silos & phase out conventional godowns.