You might be aware that the country currently has surplus grain stocks. According to the data, India has 91.1 million tons of grain reserves, which is 250 percent more storage than the country needs. The MSP has played a major role in the story behind this, which was started with the objective of giving profitable returns to farmers in Punjab and Haryana against wheat and rice growing, and it started getting great results in the 70s and 80s.
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What is an MSP?The minimum support price is actually the price that is declared twice a year before the crop cycle at the time of the Rabi and Kharif crops. That is, the government guarantees that the farmers will get at least the value of the crop, even if the government has to buy the crop. This arrangement was made after the recommendation of a commission by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for some big crops.
The MSP covers prices ranging from sowing to agricultural labor. Currently this system is applicable for 23 major crops. These crops include rice, wheat, jowar, barley, millet, maize and ragi as well as five varieties of pulses, 8 types of oil seeds, raw cotton and jute, copra, sugarcane and VFC tobacco.
How many farmers have benefited from MSP?
You must be hearing this again and again in the news that only farmers from Punjab and Haryana have reached Delhi to protest. The reason for this is that the MSP has had a big hand in the past of the prosperity of the farmers of these two states. It is also a fact that only five per cent of the farmers in the country get the benefit of MSP because this system was started with the aim of promoting the production of wheat and rice in Punjab and Haryana.
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These five percent of the farmers belong to those areas, where the history of Green Revolution was created in the 1980s. This is the reason that these farmers are opposing the new laws that are seen as a threat to the system which has been enriched. On the other hand, 95 percent of the farmers are those who are not in the purview of this system. There have been many reasons for this. Lack of awareness, lack of awareness about MSP mandis and inadequate size of fields are behind these farmers not getting MSP system.
Who do not get this benefit?
Those farmers outside the purview of MSP are those who have less than 2 hectares of land on average or who do not have agricultural land at all. The percentage of these marginalized farmers is close to 86 percent. These are farmers who do not get the right returns of their cost. The reason for this is that these farmers neither grow surplus grains nor do they have adequate means of transportation etc. and infrastructure.
Another aspect is that from Punjab and Haryana, the Central Government collects the stock of rice and wheat crop under the Food Security Act, which is subsidized to the poor of states like Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Bihar at Rs 5 per kg under the Public Distribution System Prices are delivered. This happens because due to getting cheaper grain from this scheme, the farmers of these states could not get the right and good price of the crop.
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Overall, in some states, farmers are prosperous with MSP, so the farmers of unincorporated states who do not have this system, have to bear the burden of this system. Experts say that there is a need to adopt a policy of balance and ‘development of all’ in the system.
So what is the fight over MSP?
Especially farmers of Punjab and Haryana fear that under the guise of new laws, the government has tried to create such a system, which will gradually eliminate the MSP system and directly interfere with the capitalists on agriculture and agricultural lands. The government is saying that there is no threat to the MSP, but the farmers are scared of the far-reaching consequences of the new laws.
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In fact, after the attacks of kovid and locusts in the past, farmers were expected to get some relief from the government as additional help, but the new laws made the farmers more upset. At the same time, experts are saying that the central government should take initiative in the direction of making policy in the interest of everyone keeping in mind the problems of every sector.