People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 19, 2011



Govt Makes Mockery of Farmers’ Plight


THROUGH a statement issued from New Delhi on June 11, the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has condemned the insensitive manner in which the central government has come up with the announcement of the minimum support prices (MSP) for kharif crops of 2011-12 season on June 9, 2011. The announcement has been made without taking into consideration the suggestions of the AIKS and other representatives of the farming community placed before the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The Kisan Sabha is of the opinion that the MSP announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is far below the expectations of the peasantry and provides no incentive for continued engagement with cultivation.


It is notable that the CACP report on price policy for kharif crops for 2010-11 had pointed out that the all-India projected cost of production (C2) of paddy was Rs 766 per quintal. This is far below the cost of production arrived at by even the state governments and representatives of the peasantry. By the CACP’s own admission, the MSP of paddy in 2009 at Rs 1,000 covered only the cost of production in 16 out of 18 states. The Swaminathan commission recommendation of fixing MSP at C2+50 per cent has been totally ignored by the Congress-led government. Had the government adhered to this, even with such conservative estimation the MSP of paddy (common) should have been at least Rs 1,149 in 2010-11. Now a full 12 months after that the government has come with an announcement of Rs 1,080 and Rs 1,110 per quintal of paddy common and grade A respectively, which is a meagre increase of Rs 80 per quintal only. It is to be noted that the AIKS had demanded Rs 1,500 per quintal and Rs 1,600 per quintal for paddy (common) and paddy (grade A) respectively. The state of Kerala under the LDF government had already announced Rs 1,400 per quintal for paddy (common) along with other production incentives as well as effective procurement.


The Kisan Sabha has also noted that the procurement facilities are at best skeletal in most of the states. Due to the absence of assured procurement, farmers in many states are being forced to sell at as low as Rs 600 per quintal and commission agents are making huge profits at the expense of the poor farmers. The government has, on the other hand, not done anything to address this problem; it is further taking steps towards privatisation and opening up this sector for agribusinesses. The peasantry will be entirely at the mercy of such companies in future, the Kisan Sabha has warned.


Despite the assessment of the CACP that in the case of coarse cereals like ragi and jowar there was a significant rise in cost of production of 30 per cent and 21 per cent respectively over 2009-10 and further increases in input costs later on, the government has not paid any heed to the demands for remunerative prices for coarse cereals produced mostly by small and marginal farmers, many of whom are tribal people. No effective procurement of these cereals is taking place either. A meagre increase of Rs 85 and Rs 100 per quintal has been announced for these crops. The MSP of pulses like arhar (turi) and urad have been fixed at Rs 3,200 and Rs 3,300 per quintal respectively. These are much lower than what the Kisan Sabha had proposed for these crops --- Rs 4,000 per quintal for arhar (tur) and Rs 3,800 for urad respectively at the CACP meeting.


The organisation has termed as ironical the fact there was no increase at all in prices of cotton from 2008-09 onwards despite studies by reputed institutions like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Notably, these studies have cited the exorbitant input costs and unremunerative returns for cotton farmers as the single largest cause of suicides in Vidarbha, parts of Andhra Pradesh and other places. Now the government has announced Rs 2,800 and Rs 3,400 respectively for medium staple and long staple varieties respectively, which are way below the expectations of the peasantry and the Kisan Sabha’s proposal of Rs 4,500 and Rs 5,000 per quintal respectively.


The MSP of groundnut and sunflower at Rs 2,700 and Rs 2,800 and of soyabean’s black and yellow varieties at Rs 1,650 and Rs 1,690 respectively are also far below the expectations of farmers. The AIKS had proposed Rs 3,500 for groundnut and sunflower and Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 respectively for soyabean’s black and yellow varieties respectively. The announcement of MSP for kharif crops 2011-12 does not take into account the exorbitant increases in input costs, especially the increase in prices of urea and fertilisers like MoP and DAP as well as increase in the petrol and diesel prices.


According to the AIKS, the government’s announcement has made a mockery of the plight of farmers who are increasingly on the verge of quitting agriculture due to unviable and unremunerative prices. The organisation has demanded that the government come up with revised MSPs in line with the realistic proposals put forward by the Kisan Sabha and also hold a consultation involving the state governments, representatives of the peasantry and experts to arrive at a consensus on the method of calculating the costs of production.