Terming the Union Cabinet’s “measly” wheat MSP hike as “pathetic”, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday slammed the Centre for “rubbing salt on the wounds” of the farmers, who have been out on the roads agitating against the farm laws for the past 10 months.
“At a time when India’s agriculture sector is passing through a distress phase and the farmers are agitating for a remunerative minimum support price (MSP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government of India has played a cruel joke on the ‘annadaatas’,” he said.
Demanding the MSP of wheat to be fixed at Rs 2,830 per quintal (as against present Rs 2,015 per quintal), Amarinder Singh said the farmers should not be forced to subsidise the consumers, which they have been doing since long.
“It is time the government at the Centre heeds the problems of the farmers and gives them their due,” he said, adding the BJP-led government’s “continued apathy” towards the farmers had brought the farming sector, which has been one of the country’s biggest economic strengths, to “the brink of disaster”.
“Why is the Centre treating our farmers so obnoxiously,” he asked.
Terming the MSP for wheat at Rs 2,015 per quintal as “far below the expectations of the farmers of Punjab”, he said his government has suggested the MSP of Rs 2,830 depending on the cost of production of wheat in the state.
Pointing out that the CACP estimates project an increase of 3.5 per cent only in the comprehensive cost of production (C2) over the last year, he said this does not even cover the inflation in cost of inputs.
The MSP for wheat has increased from Rs 1,975 per quintal for 2021-22 to Rs 2,015 per quintal for 2022-23, which is just two per cent increase over last year, he said, noting that the increase in input costs is much higher, with wages increasing by about seven per cent, diesel price by more than four per cent, and machinery cost by almost 20 per cent.
“As these inputs constitute major components of cost of cultivation of wheat, a meager two per cent increase in MSP will not adequately compensate the Punjab farmers and will reduce their profitability,” he stressed.