Monday, January 24, 2022

The MSP Imbroglio

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 08, 2021 11:18 pm

The controversial farm laws are no longer the bone of contention between the Centre and the agitating farmers. The Centre has repealed three new farm laws against which the farmers were agitating for nearly a year as they thought that the laws would simply privatise agriculture in the country. On the other hand, the Centre expressed the opinion that the laws would be beneficial for farmers to get proper price for their produce as new steps would bar middlemen from making money at their expense. As both sides stuck to their stands, the fate of agricultural reforms in the country remained uncertain until the announcement of the decision to repeal the laws.

Many thought that the assurance would be enough for the farmers to call off the agitation and to draw future plans for the development of agriculture in the country along with the government. But the farmers are still sitting on a dharna demanding legal status for minimum support price (MSP). But the million dollar question here is how far does it help Indian agriculture to flourish? There is no unanimity among the experts about providing legal status to MSP. While a section strongly advocate for MSP, another section opposes it on the pretext that such a dole system will not allow Indian agriculture to be competitive.

Amidst such divergent views the fact remains that at present Indian farmers get MSP for 23 crops. But the present system of providing MSP is not as effective as it ought to be. It has been found that farmers who produce four major crops namely paddy, wheat, sugarcane and cotton get benefitted. The farmers who produce channa, mustard, groundnut, tur/arhar and Moong get partially benefitted, while the farmers who produce 14 other crops entitled to get MSP do not get benefitted. Thus the present MSP system in India is not helpful to the farming community as a whole until an appropriate mechanism is worked out to provide the benefit of MSP to all. The farmers are well within their rights to seek price assurance as it helps the farming sector to grow. But if the MSP system is not effective enough, it proves to be detrimental for agriculture as in that case the farmers will mainly grow the crops where MSP is assured, neglecting other crops and the growth of Indian agriculture will become skewed. Thus the woes of Indian farmers will not end simply by providing legal status to MSP. Along with MSP, it should be ensured that each crop grower gets equal benefits and no violation of MSP takes place. So, to find a way out, both the Centre and the farmers should continue to take forward the ongoing negotiation process, because without plugging the loopholes, the legal status to MSP will become meaningless. MSP should be legalised in such a manner that it will encourage the farmers to grow more which in turn will take Indian agriculture forward.   

By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 08, 2021 11:18:52 pm