The Centre has kept prices of food crops under check by denying due increase in MSPs: Minister
There is a contradiction in the approach of the Narendra Modi government which has declared that it will double farmers’ income by 2022, according to Karnataka Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda.
“On the one hand, the Centre says it wants to double farmers’ income. But on the other, it has kept the prices of food crops under check by denying due increase in the minimum support prices (MSP) in tune with inflation rate,” Mr. Gowda said on Tuesday. He was speaking at the southern regional conference of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) on strategies for doubling farmers’ income.
“Having healthy MSP levels is crucial for increasing farmers’ income as they serve as benchmarks to determine market prices for the crops. In the last one decade, barring the last three years, the MSPs have seen an annual increase of about 15 per cent, which was above the inflation rate. But the present government has been effecting annual hike of only about 3 per cent even though inflation is over 4 per cent,” he said.
Alleging that the Centre was deliberately trying to keep the MSPs for food crops low to maintain low inflation rate to keep the middle class happy, he said, “The Centre cannot have this contradiction. It should take a call on whether to keep the middle class happy at the cost of farmers or double the income of farmers.”
Later, the Minister told The Hindu that the Centre should ensure that “its action matches its words” even as he described the declaration to double the farmers’ income as a “noble aspiration”. Pointing out that the Centre was looking at other factors such as increasing productivity, he said it would take a long time to double the income of farmers if the MSP levels were not increased.
Karnataka had already expressed its concerns about such a contradiction in the Centre’s approach, at the national-level meeting of the NABARD, the Minister said. Making its position clear, the State had also written to the Centre besides making oral submission to the authorities, seeking an increase in the MSP levels for various pulses, Mr. Gowda said.
The Centre should take a call on whether to keep the middle class happy at the cost of farmers or double the income of farmers.
Krishna Byre Gowda,Agriculture Minister