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Govt's MSP initiative: A boon to farmers


New Delhi, Oct 30: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to double the income of farmers by 2022 and the BJP-led government has taken several initiatives for it. Earlier this month, the Centre raised minimum support prices (MSP) for winter crops to ensure farmers get 50% more than what they spend on cultivation.

Govts MSP initiative: A boon to farmers

Low crop prices due to consecutive years of record harvests in 2016-17 and 2017-18 had dented agricultural incomes, and the farmers had been demanding higher remunerative prices and loan waivers. In July, the centre raised MSP for 14 kharif crops to ensure that farmers receive 50% returns over costs, in line with a promise made in this year's budget. Last month, the centre also announced a new price support scheme PM-AASHA to ensure that farmers growing pulses and oilseeds benefit from these MSPs.

Also Read | MSP is just one aspect, problems faced by Indian farmers are wide ranging

Food is one of the fundamentals needs of human beings and feeding a population of around 1.3 billion (approx 132 crores) is no mean feat. Farmers of our country work tirelessly so that we can go about carrying out our daily duties. Agriculture accounts for around 50% of India's total workforce and it is also the broadest economic sector which plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India.

With a high growth rate of population, it is a must that India raises its farm productivity to those achieved by other developing countries such as Brazil and China. Recent studies claim that India can easily feed its growing population, plus produce wheat and rice for global exports.

What MSP hike seeks to address is the market volatility and fluctuating prices of agri products in the wholesale market. Sometimes the wholesale price of a certain crop falls so low that it fails to cover the cost of production incurred by the farmer. MSP ensures that such a sudden fall is taken care of by assuring a fixed minimum price in the market.

The real problems faced by the Indian farmers are wide ranging and little has been done to address these. The farmers have been unable to make good profit from agriculture, and the condition of farmers will not change unless they begin making profit. A typical Indian farmer is still seen a poor person tilling the land from morning to evening.

Also Read | Governors' panel submits report on how to double farm income

Budget allocation for the agriculture ministry increased by 13 % to Rs 58,080 crore for 2018 -19 fiscal, from Rs 51,576 crore in 2017-18. Hike in budgetary allocation during 2014-19 compared to 2009 to 2014 is 74.5%. Up from Rs. 1,21,082 crores to Rs. 2,11,694 crore. Farm credit target was raised to Rs 11 lakh crore for 2018-19 from Rs 10 lakh crore in 2017-18.

A lot has been done for the farmers under the present regime, but a lot more still needs to donw in order to change the condition of the farmers. MSP just addresses one aspect of the problem. The policy makers ought to now focus on areas like increasing the farm yield, helping the farmers switch to mechanised farming and access to quality seeds.

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