Midnapore (West Bengal), July 16 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said previous governments had failed to hike the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) of crops despite farmers’ demands and expert panels’ recommendations.
“The demand for raising the MSP was placed before every government. Many commissions and committees were formed. But every time it was stalled. Files kept on piling,” said the Prime Minister.
“The farmers went on demanding and agitating… but neither the state governments nor those in power in Delhi heard them. After BJP came to power, we have decided to provide MSP at one-and-a-half times of the input costs,” Modi told a rally here.
“The hike would empower farmers of West Bengal as well,” the Prime Minister said.
The centre recently approved an MSP, providing farmers a profit of 50 per cent or more over “cost of production” for Kharif crops for 2018-19.
“My government is your government and it is a pro-farmer government,” he told the famers.
Based on the Costs and Prices (CACP)-fixed input cost, the MSP for paddy was increased by Rs 200 (50.09 per cent) to Rs 1,750 per quintal, while for ‘Grade A’ paddy, it went up by Rs 180 (51.8 per cent) to Rs 1,770 per quintal.
The Centre also hiked the MSP by 50 per cent for groundnut at Rs 4,890 per quintal, for moong at 6,975 per quintal, for sunflower Rs 5,388 per quintal, for soybean at Rs 3,399 per quintal, for sesame at Rs 6,249 per quintal and for Niger seed at Rs 5,877 per quintal.
He said the MSP for raw jute has also been increased by Rs 200 a quintal for this year.
“When we came to power in 2014, the raw jute price was less than Rs 2,000 a quintal. Now, the same has been increased by over Rs 1,700 a quintal over the last four years. Bengal’s jute farmers are benefitted by the increased price,” Modi said.
Reiterating Centre’s commitment to farmers, Modi said his government was working to double farmers’ income by 2022.
Refering to his government’s decision to consider bamboo as a grass, Modi said farmers could now produce, cut and sell bamboo, which previously had to be imported.
“Previous governments regarded bamboo as a tree. So, the country’s peasants and tribals had no right to cut or sell bamboo. We had to spend thousands of crores on its import. Today, our peasants can produce bamboo on their land, and sell it. Our decision has greatly benefitted the farmers,” he said.
Modi said agriculture markets have been integrated through e-NAM (electronic National Agriculture Market), enabling farmers to sell their produce after taking price information on their mobile phones.
“We are working to upgrade around 22,000 gramin haats (rural markets) with requisite infrastructure,” he said. “I hope West Bengal will take steps towards reforming the agriculture market,” he said.
Criticising the West Bengal government for not setting up a robust cold chain supply, he said the Centre took up the project Operation Greens laying priority on tomato, onions and potato. Modi also said fishermen could be empowered with “Blue Revolution”.