Centre Dispels Doubts Around Agricultural Reforms, Says Will Address Issues Like Malnutrition
The MSP payment of Rs 4.95 lakh crore has been made as against Rs 2.06 lakh crore in the last five years. (Representative image.)
In the ongoing Monsoon Session, the Lok Sabha passed three agriculture sector bills amid vehement protests by opposition parties. Two farm Bills - one on Agri market reforms and the other on contract farming provisions - were passed on Thursday while the one on amending Essential Commodities Act was passed on Tuesday. Once passed by the Rajya Sabha, the three Bills will replace the existing ordinances.
"Under the Modi government, the MSP regime has both improved and increased. Following the recommendation of the National Commission of Farmers 2006, headed by Mr Swaminathan, the government, in 2018, had increased the MSP at 1.5 times the production cost, which is the chief determinant of MSP. It implies that the guaranteed price to the farmers during normal times (good monsoon) or in times of price fluctuations and market uncertainties has further increased," said an official from the government who did not wish to be identified.
Sources further informed that MSP payment to the farmers for paddy has been increased by 2.4 times during the last five years in comparison to the period from 2009-10 to 2013-14. The MSP payment of Rs 4.95 lakh crore has been made as against Rs 2.06 lakh crore in the last five years. Meanwhile, the MSP payment to the farmers for wheat has increased by 1.77 times during the last five years in comparison to the period from 2009-10 to 2013-14. MSP payment of Rs 2.97 lakh crore has been made as against Rs 1.68 lakh crore during the last five years.
The MSP in pulses from the last five years has seen an increase of 73 per cent. "Consumption of pulses in daily diet, curbs malnutrition," said the official.
On Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, sources informed that the Centre seeks to provide for the creation of an ecosystem where the farmers and traders enjoy the freedom of choice relating to sale and purchase of farmers' produce which facilitates remunerative prices through competitive alternative trading channels to promote efficient, transparent and barrier-free inter-State and intra-State trade.
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 aims to provide for a national framework on farming agreements that protects and empowers farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, wholesalers, exporters or large retailers for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework in a fair and transparent manner.
Thirdly, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to remove commodities like cereals, pulses, oilseeds, edible oils, onion and potatoes from the list of essential commodities. "This will remove fears of private investors of excessive regulatory interference in their business operations. The freedom to produce, hold, move, distribute and supply will lead to harnessing of economies of scale and attract private sector/foreign direct investment into agriculture sector," said the official.
"As the bill replaces the ordinance to amend the Essential Commodities Act, it is important to note that ordinance provided for safeguarding of interests of consumers. It has been provided in the Amendment, that in situations such as war, famine, extraordinary price rise and natural calamity, such agricultural foodstuff can be regulated," he added.