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FCI must prioritise poor states for procuring foodgrains at MSP: Economist

The farmers in Punjab and Haryana get the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the maximum number of crops in the country while the foodgrain procurement is considerably lower in other states. This is the reason that farmers in these states are compelled to sell their crops at throwaway prices.

FCI must prioritise poor states for procuring foodgrains at MSP: Economist

New Delhi

Citing the example of Bihar where farmers are unable to take advantage of the MSP as their financial condition is in a shambles, economist Vijay Sardana says the Modi government at the Centre should come out with a policy so that the economically backward states get priority in purchasing crops at MSP.

Of the overall production of grain and wheat in Punjab and Haryana, nearly 70 percent of the grain and wheat is purchased by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) which uses the food grains to meet the needs of the Public Distribution System (PDS) under the National Food Security Act.

Economist Sardana during a conversation with IANS said, "For the last 40 years, the FCI has procured crops from Punjab and Haryana and developed both the states and created the Mandi system there, opened collection centres and farmers availed the benefits on the purchase of crops at MSP. This strengthened the economic condition of the farmers in Punjab and Haryana while the farmers in Bihar did not get the desired benefits."

Sardana said, "The Modi government should formulate a policy that FCI first procures grains from those states which are economically backward and after assessment every year it must decide from how many states and how much grain the FCI would procure from them during the next two or three years. Due to procurement of crops by the FCI from economically weaker states, farmers will get market support, which will improve their financial condition.  Infrastructure facilities would come up in these states along with opening of crop procurement centres."

He informed that FCI allocates Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 crore every year to farmers and mandis during the procurement of crops by the Central government. Using this money for the development of the economically weaker states, infrastructure facilities would come up with the opening of collection centres there.

In the current kharif marketing season, the government procurement of paddy has reached 318 lakh tonne, of which 203 lakh tonne has been purchased in Punjab. The Central government is aiming to procure 30 lakh tonne of paddy in Bihar.

Sardana said, "The government procurement of crops on taxpayers' money should be first given to the economically weaker states. For the last 40 years, farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been benefiting from this system."

Most of the farmers' organisations from Punjab and Haryana are protesting for the past seven days on the Delhi borders opposing the three new Central farm laws. MSP is a core issue in their protests. They are demanding an assurance from the Modi government of continuing the MSP.

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