New Delhi: As the Modi government’s farm bills continue to stoke controversy, two affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have sought assured MSP for farmers, saying it should also be available in the open market.
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) have urged the Modi government to ensure that MSP — minimum support price, which guarantees a certain level of returns on produce — is a part of purchases inside and outside mandis as well.
“We have issued our statement and, in our discussions, have informed the government that MSP should be applicable for farmers in the open market, besides mandi, too,” said BKS organising secretary Dinesh Kulkarni.
“At the same time, traders who want to buy from the farmers should register themselves in a portal and should not be allowed to buy only on the basis of PAN card,” he added.
“We have suggested that the government should integrate MSP with the open market. That is, if the farmer sells his produce anywhere, then he should be assured a minimum support price. No one should be allowed to purchase below it,” he said.
In a media statement, the SJM urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that MSP is made a legal provision.
“Now that new agriculture laws are being made, MSP should be made a legal provision whether a purchase is made inside or outside a ‘mandi’. Those who try to deny farmers this right should be punished as per law,” said SJM national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan.
Added Kulkarni, “We also want farmers to get a competitive market. Right now the farmers are not getting the confidence that MSP brings with it, so that should be included. There are 80-85 per cent small and marginal farmers in the country.”
“The government is assuring that we will not stop the purchase, that is fine, but the purchase that takes place on MSP has only 6 per cent of farmers across the country. Our demand is that MSP should be linked with an open market and it will really help the farmers,” he said.
The three farm bills — Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, and Amendment to 1955 Essential Commodities Act — will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha Sunday.
Among other things, they seek to extricate farmers from manipulation by middlemen, by allowing them to trade freely outside mandis set up under the agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) Acts at the central level and in different states.
Several farmers’ organisations, especially in Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the three bills, which have also been termed anti-farmer by the opposition as well as BJP ally SAD. The leading demand is that MSP be made a legal provision to assure a better price to farmers.