Pune: In recent times, as there is talk of an aggravating agrarian crisis looming over the farming sector, there is also rising demand for providing farmers a Minimum Support Price (MSP) in accordance with the Swaminathan Commission report recommendations.
Since Finance Minister Arun Jaitley spoke about an assured 1.5 times MSP to farmers, there has been a debate whether farmers are actually getting paid accordingly.
The Swaraj Abhiyan, started by well-known psephologist and activist Yogendra Yadav almost two years back, has come out with an innovative concept to counter the government’s claims regarding the MSP.
The Abhiyan comes out with a daily graphic, which indicates the prices paid to farmers per quintal of a certain commodity in various APMC markets across the country in comparison to the claimed MSP by the government.
Yadav said that the issue of farmer’s income is one of the most burning issues in the country today.
“In the last one year, peasants’ struggles have spread across the nation. The stir, which started with the farmer’s strike in Maharashtra, spread to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab,” Yadav said, adding, “Farmer’s income as an issue has come to the fore of the national discourse because of this.”
“I have been fully involved in agricultural sector for the last two years, during which I have realised debt is just an impact of the more important issue of farmer’s incomes and MSP is the tool to increase and assure that,” Yadav said.
The MSP according to Yadav should have been actually calculated according to the C2 calculations where all factors are considered rather than the current calculation A2+FL, which is only partial cost.
“When the FM declared in the Assembly that the government will ensure the delivery of an MSP of 1.5 times the cultivation cost to the farmers, we wanted to investigate whether even the current partial MSP is being delivered or not,” Yadav said, adding, “I visited APMCs from almost eight states and realised that not a single APMC was paying the MSP to farmers for even a single crop. We decided that this reality needs to be highlighted.”
Yadav says that the purpose of this campaign is not the allegation but awareness.
“We’re not interested in any allegations. We’re just taking the government’s own data on a day-to-day basis and comparing it to the MSP and showing the loss that farmers of that commodity have suffered,” Yadav said, adding, “We want the citizens, farmers and journalists to have a clear picture of the gap between what the government claims and what is the reality.”
“We got help from Sunil Tambe, an agriculture sector market intelligence professional and started compiling data from the APMCs, which see the largest income of harvest for that day,”
Yadav said, further adding, “So if the Bengal gram produce has MSP of Rs 4,400 per quintal and is getting a price of Rs 3,300-3500, then the farmer is being denied Rs 900 according to the MSP. Considering the estimated production of gram, that loss becomes Rs 6,170 crore.”
Yadav said that this campaign has been very effective in creating awareness.
“Journalists, farmers, peasants organisations are finding the data very useful. Some newspapers have also started their own MSP calculator services,” Yadav said, adding, “We use Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp to reach out to thousands of farmers in the country.”
Feasibility of MSP
When asked about the criticism presented by some regarding the feasibility of an MSP equal to 1.5 times of the cultivation costs, Yadav said that such a feasibility is subject to priorities. He said, “Political will decides the feasibility of anything. If the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train is feasible, if the 7th Pay commission, which will need an excess of Rs 1 lakh crore from the treasury is feasible, then calling the MSP not feasible is a matter of priority of the government.”
“If it was not feasible, why did the FM claim so in the Assembly?” he asked.