Swaraj India's Yogendra Yadav, along with Avik Saha, National Convenor, Jai Kisan Andolan and Madhuresh, National Convenor, National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM) on March 7 launched All India Minimum Support Price (MSP) Satyagraha.
Minimum Support Price (MSP) is at the heart of the existing system to ensure fair and remunerative returns to farmers. Thus MSP is a solemn guarantee to the farmers to the effect that the Central Government shall ensure a floor price, should the farmers fail to get even that level.
The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget speech of 2018 laid special emphasis on the Central Government's commitment to ensuring MSP to the farmers. Jaitley announced and assured that his Government had already implemented (for the majority of Rabi crops) and was going to further implement (for unannounced Rabi and Kharif crops) its electoral promise of ensuring prices that yield at least 50% returns over the cost of production.
Swaraj Abhiyan claimed that Farmers' Movements have already exposed this claim to be a case of sleight-of-hand. Mr Jaitley has already admitted that the cost he was speaking about was not comprehensive C2 cost but partial cost known as A2 + FL.
They further said that the Finance Minister and subsequently the Prime Minister Narendra Modi also admitted that increasing MSP is not adequate and it is more important that farmers should get full benefit of the announced MSP and for achieving this, the Government was going to take special steps this year to ensure that all farmers actually get the MSP announced by the Government. Jaitley further promised that if prices at agriculture produce markets is less than MSP, then the Government shall purchase either at MSP or provide MSP to the farmers through some other mechanism; Niti Ayog, in consultation with Central and State Governments, shall put in place a fool-proof mechanism so that farmers will get adequate price for their produce.
Briefing the media the activists said, "It is time to test this promise as the marketing season for Rabi crop 2018-19 has begun. An analysis of the marketing season of Kharif crop 2017-18 had demonstrated that the farmers were forced to sell much below MSP and had incurred a total loss of at least Rs.32, 702 crores. It may be kept in mind that traditionally farmers losses are lower in Rabi marketing season than during Kharif marketing season."
"However, so far the signals are not very good. In the first few weeks of this marketing season the prices of Bengal Gram (Channa) have fallen substantially below the MSP of Rs.4400 (MSP of Rs.4250+ Rs.150 bonus). The official Agmarknet data for the first week of March shows that the average modal price of Channa is anywhere between Rs. 800 to 1000 below the MSP , also substantially below the prices last year . Sadly much of this loss was avoidable as the Government knew about greater sowing acreage and expected a bumper crop of Bengal Gram. Despite this, the Government allowed substantial quantity of Bengal Gram to be imported. In fact the import during April-November 2017 was 7.47 lakh tonne compared to 2.49 lakh tonne during the same months in 2016. So far, the state response has not been up to the mark. Maharashtra has announced procurement of just 4 lakh tonnes against an estimated arrival of 19 Lakh Tonne chana. MP's Bhavantar Yojna has run into difficulties. So far we know little about special measures that the Niti Ayog was to evolve to support the farmers," they said.
Rapeseed oil has also started arriving and is selling around 3,500 against the MSP of Rs. 4000 (MSP 3,900 plus a bonus of Rs. 100). Lentil (Masur) is selling between Rs. 3,200 to 3,800 against the MSP of 4,250.
"Would this trend continue for the rest of the marketing season? Will Wheat fetch MSP outside the handful of states where substantial procurement takes place? The answer lies in making field inquiry at the ground level in the agricultural markets (mandis) during the marketing season," they questioned.
Jai Kisan Andolan of Swaraj Abhiyan has taken up this challenge in collaboration with many other organisations from within All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) like National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), Ryathu Joint Action Committee (Telangana) and Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (Madhya Pradesh). An MSP Satyagraha is being launched from 14th March 2018 at Yadgir in Karnataka. In this Satyagraha, the plan is to travel from mandi to mandi and hold Kisan Darbar with twofold objectives:
1. To make farmers aware of the multiple ways in which they are looted and to raise demand for legal entitlement of fair MSP
2. Check out whether farmers are able to get MSP that they have been assured of
*The schedule of Phase I of MSP Satyagraha is* :
- 14th March - Yadgir (Karnataka)
- 15th March - Kurnool (Andhra)
- 16th March - Tandur (Telangana)
- 17th-18th March - Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan)
- 19th March - Rewari (Haryana)
- 25th March - Rudrapur (Uttarakhand)