From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : National Food Security Act 2013
Mains level : Paper 3- Farmers apprehension over MSP
- Farmers’ protests have erupted once again in north India, their main worry is about a possible withdrawal of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and a dismantling of the public procurement of grains.
Why farmers in Punjab and Haryana are protesting
- Farmers in Punjab and Haryana are heavily dependent on public procurement and assured price through MSP.
- Nearly 88% of the paddy production and 70% of the wheat production in Punjab and Haryana (in 2017-18 and 2018-19) has been absorbed through public procurement [Food Grains Bulletin and Agricultural Statistics at a Glance, Government of India].
- In contrast, in the other major paddy States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh, only 44% of the rice production is procured by public agencies.
- In the major wheat States of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, only 23% of the production is procured by public agencies.
Government needs to continue procurement
- If farmers of Punjab and Haryana need the procurement system, the government needs it even more.
- This is because of its obligations under the PDS and the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
- Support under the NFSA is a legal and rights-based entitlement.
- There are nearly 80 crore NFSA beneficiaries and an additional eight crore migrants who need to be supported under the PDS.
- In the last three years, nearly 40% of the total paddy production in the country and 32% of wheat production has been procured by public agencies to supply the PDS.
- Thus, the government has little option but to continue its procurement from these States in the foreseeable future.
- Therefore, it is imperative that the government reaches out to the farmer groups and assures them of the indispensability of MSP-procurement system.
- The government needs to start this initiative immediately to allay their legitimate concerns.
- Two of the major limitations in the laws that need to be addressed immediately:
- 1) The absence of a regulatory mechanism to ensure fair play by private players vis-à-vis farmers.
- 2) The lack of transparency in trade area transactions.
The severe trust deficit that resulted from the way the Farm Bills have been rushed through needs to be addressed by adopting a conciliatory approach towards farmers and the States.