The announcement of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the Kharif crop by the Central Government on June 9, has been termed as a historic step towards doubling the income of the farmers. Any conclusion can be reached only through the factual analysis of the claims made by the government.
Firstly, it is necessary to clarify that this announcement of MSP is not a historical step, but since 1966-67, every year before sowing of Rabi and Kharif crops, such announcements are being made on the suggestions of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, on a regular basis. In the current announcement, the increase has been made from 20 (maize) to 452 (sesame), which looks attractive once again. But if these announcements of MSP are seen on the basis of percentage increase from last year, then this increase is 3.8 percent on paddy, 1 percent on moong, 4.3 percent on jowar, 4.3 percent on bajra, 2.5 percent on ragi, 1 percent on maize and 5 percent on groundnut. This is an increase of around 3% on an average for all declared crops, which is about one-third of the inflation rate (8 to 9 percent). The historical growth being declared by the government on adjusting the rate of inflation, appears to be a negative growth in reality. This situation becomes worse if the growth of petrol and diesel (more than 25%) is adjusted for the last 1 year.
In this announcement of the government, it has been shown to ensure remunerative price of about 50 percent to 80 percent of the cost on various crops. It is very important to know here that there are three types of agricultural costs determined by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, which are called A-2, A-2+FL, C-2 costs, respectively. Out of these, the former two costs are actually partial cost, whereas C-2 i.e. comprehensive cost is considered as full cost. The Swaminathan Commission set up by the Vajpayee government had recommended to ensure 50% remunerative price on this C-2 cost. In the manifesto of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections of the BJP, it was announced to fulfill this recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission. In fact, the present MSP has been determined on the basis of A-2+FL which is a partial cost. It is the same thing as showing the cost of 100 as 60 and making 50 percent remunerative price ( 90) on it as historical.
If the MSP announcements of the last 7 years (2014 to 2021) of the Modi government are compared with that of the UPA government (2009 to 2014), the reality becomes clearer. Here in a comparative study of the MSP increase of the most purchased (on MSP) ‘Paddy’ crop, it comes to the fore that during the above 5 years, the price of paddy was increased by the UPA government by a total of 69%, whereas the Modi government has increased it by 45% in 7 years. In a comparative study of all the crops, it comes to the fore that the MSP increase per annum in all the crops except only two crops has been almost more than 2 times during the UPA tenure as compared to the present Modi government’s tenure.
Lastly, it also becomes necessary to examine whether this announcement is a meaningful step towards doubling the income of farmers! It should be made clear that the announcement of MSP has no direct relation with the income of the farmer. Because in the report of the ‘Shanta Kumar Committee’ constituted by the Modi government in the year 2015, it has become clear that only 6% of the total produce is ensured to be procured at MSP. If the purchase of Punjab and Haryana is excluded from this, then in the rest of the country, the procurement at MSP remains almost negligible. On the other hand, in February 2016, the Modi government had pledged to double farmers’ income by 2022. But no factual details of this were presented. However, in the year 2018, NITI Aayog estimated that to double the income of a farmer by 2022, it would be necessary to increase the agricultural growth rate to 10.4 percent per annum. But the average growth rate of agriculture in the last 7 years has been less than about 2 percent as compared to 3.4% in 2014. The resolution of doubling farmers’ income made by the Modi government is now just less than a year away. Yet when the Modi government repeatedly displays its commitment to doubling the farmers’ income, it either shows its overconfidence or shows the poor understanding of the farmers. But despite all the diplomatic conspiracies of the central and various BJP-ruled state governments, it has become clear from the farmers’ movement that has been going on for more than 6 months, that even now, the Modi government is making similar hollow historical announcements towards farmers and if he still has a mentality to trick farmers, then this mentality will prove fatal for him in the times to come.