Citing the challenges faced due to labour shortage and the need for ensuring food safety amid the Covid-19 crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider an MSP of Rs 2,902 per quintal for paddy along with Rs 100 per quintal as incentive bonus to check stubble burning.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Amarinder Singh said the state had already written to the Ministry of Agriculture recommending a minimum support price (MSP) for paddy at Rs 2,902 per quintal as calculated by the Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana, against last year's MSP of Rs 1,835 per quintal.
"Given the need to ensure food safety in the time of the present pandemic, it is imperative that farmers may be given the appropriate price signal by announcing a remunerative MSP for paddy," said Amarinder Singh, seeking the Prime Minister's personal consideration in this matter, as well as on the issue of incentive bonus.
The Chief Minister noted that Punjab was successfully moving in the service of the nation towards meeting its target of wheat procurement, notwithstanding the challenges imposed by the lockdown and the concerns of social distancing.
Post the wheat procurement, paddy transplantation in the state was scheduled to commence in mid-June, but it may require to be slightly advanced due to the shortage of labour in the state, he said.
Noting that "it is unlikely that we will see much seasonal labour coming from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar for paddy transplantation due to Covid," Amarinder Singh expressed concern at the serious challenges this could pose for farming operations in the coming paddy season, besides leading to escalation in labour costs.
The Chief Minister underlined the importance of providing farmers a non-burning bonus of Rs 100 per quintal to defray their expenses in handling of paddy straw, thus preventing the burning of paddy stubble.
In this context, he also pointed to the Supreme Court directions asking the Centre and states to work out an incentive structure to overcome the problem of paddy stubble burning.
"This monetary incentive deserves to be announced ex-ante, i.e. along with the MSP, to allow farmers to prepare for its management and for the state to work towards proper implementation," said Amarinder Singh, adding that this bonus would also help incentivise the desired behaviour and encourage farmers to move to better and ecologically sustainable farm practices.