Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has urged the central government to intervene immediately to resolve the crisis gripping the farming community across the country, reiterating the Congress demand for farm debt waiver in all the states, with urgent steps to fix the MSP of crops in line with the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
The Chief Minister’s request came amid an escalating farmer crisis in the country, which witnessed six people being killed in police firing during a protest by farmers in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, and continuing spate of farmer suicides in various states, including Punjab.
In a statement issued here on Wednesday, the Chief Minister, while reiterating his government’s commitment to waiver of loans for farmers in Punjab, called for a holistic policy by the Centre to address the problem. Though the Commission set up by his government to work out the debt waiver modalities was already on the job, it was important to resolve the crisis at a national level, he added.
The key to resolving the farmers’ problems in the country lies in the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, which had recommended fixing the minimum support prices (MSP) for crops at levels “at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production,” the Chief Minister said. As pointed out by the Commission, this would help enhance the profitability in agriculture, by ensuring a minimum of 50 per cent profits over the cost of production, Captain Amarinder added.
Pointing out that a fair price mechanism for farmers would go a long way in ensuring better remuneration for their crops, the Chief Minister appealed to the central government to come out with a national framework for the same. He referred to this own request to the central government for fixing MSP for maize, in addition to wheat and paddy, to stress the need to encourage the farmers to diversify their cultivation habits and shift towards the more lucrative cash crops.
Captain Amarinder had a few days ago written to Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, seeking his direct intervention for fixing the procurement price of maize at the central government’s MSP to boost crop diversification. Lamenting the delay in allowing purchase of maize at MSP through central agencies, including FCI and NAFED, the Chief Minister had, in his letter, said an early decision on this was necessary to facilitate timely procurement of maize.
In his letter, Captain Amarinder had pointed out that the Government of India (GoI) had already noted that the Ministry of Food and Civil Supplies should procure Maize at MSP as it was one of the important food crops. The Chief Minister expressed the apprehension that the issue of procurement of Maize at MSP by the Centre might never be settled if left to the officials, thus necessitating the Prime Minister’s personal intervention.