Farmers protest in New Delhi
Thousands of farmers gathered in New Delhi on 20 November | @_YogendraYadav
Text Size:

A national panel was formed in 2004 under M.S. Swaminathan, which recommended an MSP 50 per cent higher than cost, but Centre refused in 2015.

New Delhi: Two years ago, the Centre dropped the proposal to provide a minimum support price (MSP) 50 per cent higher than the cost of production. But even now, farmers continue to demand the implementation of that recommendation, which was made by the Swaminathan Committee.

Thousands of farmers took to New Delhi’s Parliament Street Monday, seeking a one-time full waiver of loans, and to remind the Centre of its promise to improve their plight.

Suggestions for farmers’ benefit 

The recommendations were the product of the national commission on farmers formed in 2004 under the chairmanship of M.S. Swaminathan, the father of the Green Revolution. The committee drafted five reports released in 2004, 2005, and 2006. The reports explored the causes for farmers’ distress, suicides, and contained suggestions to achieve faster and inclusive growth. The topics focused on were land reforms, productivity, credit and insurance, employment etc.

One of the most important recommendations was that “MSP should be at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production”. This would ensure a fixed ‘take home’ income for the farmer, apart from input costs and expenses.

The BJP had also promised this in its 2014 election manifesto. However, when a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court by the Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations (CIFA) in February 2015 demanding implementation of the national policy on farmers, the Centre filed an affidavit stating that the recommended MSP could not be provided.

“Hence, prescribing an increase of at least 50 per cent on cost may distort the market,” the government had said in the affidavit, which has been accessed by ThePrint.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

“A mechanical linkage between MSP and cost of production may be counter-productive in some cases. No comparison can be made about increase or decrease of price of one commodity as compared to other commodities as the same depends on demand and supply and market forces.”

The government added: “It may be noted that pricing policy i.e. the fixing of MSP is not a ‘cost plus’ exercise, though cost is an important determinant of MSP. The pricing policy seeks to achieve the objective of fair and remunerative price and is not an income policy.”

Experts advise fresh look 

Now, 13 years since the recommendations were first made, experts say that it is time to take another look at all the policies and laws concerning agriculture.

Vijay Sardana, an agricultural analyst, said: “More options have to be explored with modern concepts to ensure security in agricultural markets and farmers’ income.”

He added that the Swaminathan Committee’s report fails to balance the price gap between the increase in the MSP and the cost of feeding the Indian population, which is highly middle- and lower class.

Activists like Yogendra Yadav continue to support the cause of the farmers, urging the Centre to fulfil the committee’s recommendations.

“Farmers need a reasonable income for the investment they make, and that is where Swaminathan Committee’s recommendations are relevant. The entire exercise is not an impossible task,” said Chengal Reddy, chief advisor to CIFA.

“When teachers in government schools earn close to Rs 40,000 per month, why shouldn’t the farmer who feeds the country fight for his income?”

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here