New Delhi, Jan 12 (UNI) The BJP, which started 'Kisan Yatra' in the backward Vidarbha region of Maharashtra on Thursday, has vowed to step up farmers' agitation throughout the country seeking fair returns for their produce by adopting a new formula for fixing the minimum support price (MSP).
The formula for fixing the MSP should take the costs assessed by its Committee on Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) and an additional 50 per cent cost. If this is done, it would ensure fair returns for the farmers, a BJP spokesman told newspersons.
''The wrong policies of the UPA have caused immense damage to the agriculture sector, the backbone of the national economy by denying fair prices for the producers of food grains, pulses, sugarcane and cotton,'' he said.
Paddy growers in 11 states were directly suffering the discrimination as the Government hiked the MSP for wheat ignoring the rice growing states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka Tamil Nadu, Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Assam, Orissa, West Bengal and Punjab who have to be content with Rs 750 a quintal compared to Rs 1000 for wheat.
Earlier, there was a parity in the MSP of wheat and sugar which is missing after the revision of theMSP for wheat, the spokesman said.
He also maintained that sugarcane growers in Maharashtra were getting half of Rs 12,000 a tonne, the price they received in 1996 when the Shiv Sena-BJP coalition was in power in the state.
Today, the MSP for sugar is Rs 560 a tonne. In Uttar Pradesh, farmers were yet to get their money for the cane they had supplied to the sugar mills.
Earlier, the BJP had demanded the government to bring the farmers under welfare net, their crops under insurance cover and pension for the aged growers.
These steps would prevent them from resorting to extreme steps like commiting suicide, the spokesman added.
The party also wanted the Government to introduce micro irrigation systems in suicide-prone cotton belts of the country on a priority basis.
The rain dependent Vidarbha belt in Maharashtra was witnessing unabated suicides whereas growers in Gujarat had switched over to drip irrigation system increasing both production and productivity thereby cushioning himself against vagaries of costs. Such an effort was needed in all backward cotton growing regions of the country, he said.
UNI MCN/KAS SK RS1742