The Farmers Starting Yet Another Agitation Deserve Careful Handling!

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Farmers
  • As you are aware, the yet fresh memories of the previous farmer’s agitation demanding the rolling back of three agricultural laws must be rankling the concerned citizens as well as the Government of India, no end. The long-drawn-out agitation for months forced the Narendra Modi-led Union Government to roll back the much-needed farm reforms when the pressure built by the farmers kept dragging on. Of course, sensing an opportunity to score a brownie point or two, the opposition ranks closed in with the conglomeration of farmer groups by extending unstinted support accusing the Central Government of being anti-farmer. Lots of water has flown under the bridge since then, but the simmering issue appears to have resurfaced again now.

Farmers

PC: Mint

  • The farmer groups are at it again giving a clarion call to march towards New Delhi. The Delhi Chalo agitation is not only going to be most ill-adviced and ill-timed but also comes at a time when the mother of all elections, the Lok Sabha polls are looming. Some farm organizations decided this was a good time to try and see if the Union Government could be arm-twisted to concede more goodies. Prima facie, their list of demands can be broken up into impractical and doable. One cannot rule out the opposition ranks from extending full support for the demands because the BJP appears to be comfortably ahead in the race to win the much-coveted general elections. Mind you, the opposition does not have any alternative narrative to impress upon the electorate.
  • Farmers want a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) for crops. This is the most important demand and one that keeps recurring. It’s also the most impractical. Any guarantee is just a promise on paper. Experience shows it can’t be implemented. GOI announces MSP for 22 crops. For most of them, the support price remains on paper and farmers receive the price determined by demand and supply conditions. It’s mainly in two crops, paddy, and wheat, that MSP works. For all practical purposes, MSP in food crops is a cereal show. It is procurement by the government that gives MSP meaning. Falter on procurement, MSP loses relevance. Let’s take govt price movements of paddy, wheat, and bajra – and how they work out on the ground.

Farmers

PC: India Today

  • Notably, between 2014-15 and 2023-24, the MSP of paddy (common variety) increased by a compound annual growth rate of 5.4%. Wheat during the same period increased by 5.1%. It’s bajra where MSP increased more substantially at a compound growth of 8% – because GOI is promoting bajra. Normally, a faster increase in MSP should have nudged farmers to switch to growing more bajra at the expense of paddy. Instead, the area under bajra declined by 24% between 2011-12 and 2021-22. For rice and wheat, the area under cultivation recorded a modest increase. For all coarse cereals, the area under cultivation fell during this period. Farmers respond to price signals when backed by procurements. Irritants like police cases from earlier protests should be withdrawn. The legal guarantee of MSP is a bad idea and should be buried for good.

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Krishna MV
Krishna is a Post Graduate with specialization in English Literature and Human Resource Management, respectively. Having served the Indian Air Force with distinction for 16 years, Armed Forces background definitely played a very major role in shaping as to who & what he is right now. Presently, he is employed as The Administrator of a well known educational institute in Bangalore. He is passionate about sharing thoughts by writing articles on the current affairs / topics with insightful dissection and offering counter / alternate views thrown in for good measure. Also, passionate about Cricket, Music – especially vintage Kannada & Hindi film songs, reading – non-fictional & Self-Help Books, and of course, fitness without compromising on the culinary pleasures.