CHANDIGARG: Unlike wheat and paddy, crops like maize and cotton which have a Minimum Support Price (MSP) are not backed by bodies like the Food Corporation of India, thus are being sold much below the MSP in Punjab.
Farmers are strongly opposing the agriculture bill as they apprehend that the same fate will befall wheat and paddy.
Cotton sold below MSP
The MSP for cotton is between Rs 5,515 to Rs 5,825 per quintal but is being sold at Rs 4,600 per quintal. Cotton, grown in Punjab, in the malwa region of the state (Bathinda, Sangrur, Mansa, Fazilka, Faridkot, Muktsar , Moga and Barnala districts) are produced in around 10 to 11 lakh bales with each bale weighing 170 kgs.
Maize sold below MSP
The situation is no different for maize, as its MSP is Rs 1,850 per quintal but farmers are getting only between Rs 700 to Rs 1,000 per quintal.
Around 6 lakh tonnes of Maize is grown in the state in 1.60 lakh hectares of area across the state mainly in Doaba.
There are two varieties: Kharif maize which yields on average 22 quintal per acre and spring maize which yields around 35 quintal per acre.
"When the government does not intervene, the private traders buy the crop much below the MSP as the farmer does not have the capacity to store the crop and are in dire need of money.
The trader exploits the financial situation of the farmer who is debt-ridden.
Thus, every year, maize and cotton are sold way below the MSP. Now, with these new farm legislations passed, the apprehension is that wheat and paddy will also meet the same fate," said agriculture economist, Sucha Singh Gill
He added that since Basamati doesn't have an MSP, it is already selling at much less price.
Vinod Jyani, a cotton farmer who grows the crop in three acres said, "Last year, initially we almost got the MSP but later on we had to sell it for Rs 500 to Rs 600 which is less than the MSP. While this year the crop is being sold at Rs 4,500 to Rs 4,600 much below the MSP."
"The union government has put twenty three crops under MSP that includes wheat, paddy, pulses, sugarcane, bajra, jwahar besides others. But till date besides wheat and paddy which are sold on MSP, all the other crops are sold much below MSP.
Now it will happen to wheat and paddy as well. Actually, the marketing system was only developed in Punjab and Haryana and no other state. As both the state governments developed a system under the APMC Act and set up mandi boards, and procurement agencies who picked up the crops.
But sugarcane is still sold on MSP but the payment is delayed for minimum a year and at times much more,’’ said another farmer Omkar Singh.(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)