NEW DELHI: Allaying the apprehensions of farmers that procurement at MSPs will be stopped in the wake of the new farm laws, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has said there is no need to hold discussion on a new law on MSPs if it is not even feasible in the first place.
“What is not feasible should not be discussed,” he told IANS on Tuesday when asked about the possibility of bringing forth a new law on the issue, as demanded by the farmers as a guarantee for Minimum Support Price system’s continuation.
He said that fears on discontinuation of MSP system were “baseless” and asserted that the Centre was ready to assure them on the issue again.
“The purchase of crops at Minimum Support Price will continue. The government is ready to assure the farmers on the issue of MSPs,” he said.
Experts are also of the opinion that it is not feasible to guarantee MSPs of all crops to farmers and ban on purchase of crops below MSPs for private traders.
In order to ensure remunerative prices to farmers, the central government declares MSPs for 23 crops in Kharif and Rabi seasons every year on the recommendation of the Agricultural Cost and Price Commission (ACPC). Crops like paddy, wheat, oilseeds and pulses are procured by the government at MSPs.
A senior ACPC official said that if it was feasible, a law would already been place on the MSPs. “One has to think over as to why a law to guarantee MSPs has not been enacted so far,” he quipped.
Agriculture economist Vijay Sardana believes that if procurement at MSP is made mandatory for the private sector, prices of agricultural produce will go up and buyers will start importing the commodity instead of buying it from domestic market when prices are higher than in the international market.
In case, the government was to buy all crops from the farmers at MSPs, it will have to spend an estimated Rs 17 lakh crore as per existing prices, he added.
A senior officer said that making a separate law on MSP may create some practical difficulties and that is the reason the government was assuring about its continuation rather than agree to a new law.
In Rabi season this year, the government has procured a record 389.92 lakh tonnes of wheat from farmers and more than 350 lakh tonnes of paddy in ongoing Kharif season so far.
Out of this, about 203 lakh tonnes of paddy has been procured from Punjab. FCI and state agencies have set a target of procuring 738 lakh tonnes of paddy in the current season.