Presently the country produces 30.8 lakh metric tonnes of food grains per year. About one third of this food grains are consumed by the farmers themselves and one third food grains are purchased by the central government through APMC mandis at the minimum support price. The remaining one-third of the food grains have to be sold to the farmers in the open market.
The amount of crop that the central government buys at the minimum support price is made available to the poor people through government ration shops (PDS system) free of cost or at a very low price. But even after the distribution of ration through all the welfare schemes, sufficient amount of food grains are left with the government every year.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is unable to provide even enough space to store the purchased crops. Millions of tons of food grains lie under the open sky every year. There are reports of their rotting, being eaten by rats and the spoiled grain being sold to liquor companies at very low prices. In such a situation, the big question is, why should the central government buy more crops than this, and where will the extra money for this come from?
Farmers are also demanding to bring products like milk, whose annual production has reached a record production of 20.4 lakh metric tonnes, under the Minimum Support Price, which is currently sold in the open market. They also produce 32.5 lakh metric tonnes of vegetables and fruits per year in the country. Some farmers also demand to bring it under the Minimum Support Price.
clear up misunderstanding
Agriculture expert Devinder Sharma told Amar Ujala that the misconception of the people should be dispelled that farmers want to procure their entire crop only through the central government. Farmers demand that wherever the crop is procured, whether in government mandis, by private companies or in the open market, it should not be at a price less than the minimum support price.
Just as medicines have a maximum retail price or MRP, so that the shopkeeper is not able to sell the medicine at a price higher than the prescribed price, similarly, the minimum support price for the crops should be fixed, so that that crop can be sold. Cannot be bought or sold at a price less than the prescribed price. This will not put any additional burden on the central government and farmers will start getting better prices through the open market.
If the crop is not sold in the market, the farmers should also get the guarantee of its purchase by the central government. This may put some extra burden on the central government, but it should be borne by the central government.
Won’t inflation increase?
If a fixed price is fixed for each crop of the farmers, will it not make the price of essential food grains very high? Will the common man be able to buy food grains at this price? Devinder Sharma says that even when the Seventh Pay Commission was implemented for central employees, the financial burden on the central-state governments increased. But then the government had borne it under the pressure of the employees, so the government should also bear this additional burden.
Keep in mind that when the central government implemented the fifth, sixth and seventh pay commissions, it was welcomed by the industrial sector. Because the industrial sector believed that this would put more money in the hands of the central employees, they would spend this money in the market and this would increase the demand for more goods. This will help the industrial sector to grow. Agricultural experts believe that increasing the income of farmers will also produce similar effects. If the income of farmers will increase, then they will be able to buy more commodities in the market and the condition of industrial companies will improve.
In 1976, the price of one quintal of wheat was Rs 76 per quintal, which has now increased by 25 times to Rs 2015 per quintal (Minimum Support Price). Compared to that time, today the monthly income of a professor has increased by 150 to 170 times and the salary of a teacher has increased from 280 to 300 times. In such a situation, why should not the income of the farmers only increase according to the same which has unfortunately remained at a very low level.
According to a study by the World Bank, the salaries of public sector employees for the same work are 120 to 150 percent higher than the salaries of private sector employees in the world. But in India this salary is surprisingly high by 700 percent. Why should farmers not get this benefit of 70 percent population of the country?
The bitter truth of the present model of economic development all over the world is that the rich class is getting richer and the poor class is getting poorer. All the money is getting collected in the hands of a few rich families. This money should be decentralized to the entire public and giving more money to the farmers through minimum support price can be an effective weapon. And since, farmers will eventually spend this money in the market itself, this will increase the demand for the goods in the market and boost the economy of the country.
Only 6 percent farmers get the benefit of Minimum Support Price in the country. If the remaining 94 percent farmers also get its benefit, then it will improve the standard of living of the people of the lower strata. In the country, only 7 percent of the people in the government and private sector together get a salary, the remaining 93 percent people rely on private work-business or irregular earnings in the open market. If farmers are given the benefit of Minimum Support Price, it will help in improving the economic condition of large population.
A big argument is made that if MSP is implemented, it will increase the price of crops in comparison to the international market. With this, private companies-traders will buy food grains from the world market and farmers’ crops will not be sold. Due to this, the implementation of MSP will result in loss instead of profit.
But it needs to be regularised. By making rules for the purchase of crops, the central government can limit it to only those items which are lacking in the country. By giving additional subsidy to the farmers, their produce can also be made better than the international market.
The central government had described its agricultural laws as better than the intention of providing an open market for farmers. But it should be noted that even after being based entirely on the open market, American-European farmers are not in a position to profit. It is on the basis of huge subsidies from their governments that they are brought in a better price position. Even in our country, 94 percent of the farmers still sell their crops in the open market. If the open market was a profitable deal for them, then the condition of these farmers would have been better. But the position of these farmers shows that open market without minimum support price is not profitable for the farmers.