“At a time when farmers continued to put their lives on the line with their prolonged protest at Delhi borders, the BJP-led central government has, instead of putting balm on their wounds, added insult to injury with the MSP announcement,” Capt Amarinder Singh said.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday said the MSP hike for paddy was not only “grossly inadequate”, but “an insult” to farmers who have been protesting against the Centre’s farm laws for over six months.

“At a time when farmers continued to put their lives on the line with their prolonged protest at Delhi borders, the BJP-led central government has, instead of putting balm on their wounds, added insult to injury with the MSP announcement,” said the CM in a statement.

Amarinder slammed the “anti-farmer” Centre for “consistently failing to protect the interests of farmers and its apathy for their problems”. “The less than 4 per cent hike in paddy MSP was not enough even to meet the increased input costs,” he said, citing the extraordinary hikes in diesel and other costs over the past year. The increase in MSP of other crops was also quite measly, he further said, adding that the “small hike in the base price of maize would discourage farmers from going in for much-needed crop diversification to save the precious and depleting water resource”.

The chief minister noted that the Swaminathan Committee, whose recommendations the central government has refused to accept, had clearly suggested that MSP should be “at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production”. Far from implementing the recommendations of the committee in the interests of farmers and the nation’s food security, the BJP-led government had passed the anti-farmer farm laws that are clearly aimed at destroying India’s farmers, he claimed.

Amarinder said it was not enough for the Union agriculture minister to say that doors for talks with farmers were open. “The Government of India should repeal the farm laws and then sit across the table with the farmers to come out with genuine and meaningful reforms in agriculture in the interest of the agricultural community and the entire nation,” he added.

Demanding that the Centre simplify procurement of all agricultural produce at MSP that fully covers farmers’ cost plus 50 per cent margin, as recommended by the Swaminathan Committee, the CM stressed on the need to take the actual cost of production into account while calculating MSP.

He said the Centre was “increasingly becoming a bottleneck in the smooth procurement of food grains at MSP by making procedures and process more complicated and anti-farmer”.

Amarinder warned that such “apathetic attitude towards the farmers, who had ensured that agriculture remained the biggest revenue earner for the government even amid the pandemic, would be detrimental to the long-term interests of the country”. “It could push India back into the pre-Green Revolution era, forcing us once again to pick up the begging bowl to meet the food-related needs of our people,” he added.

 

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