Naveen demands immediate action on promise to increase paddy MSP

New Delhi, Jan 8: Demanding immediate intervention from the Centre, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Tuesday rued that the Centre has repeatedly ignored the request of the State government to hike the minimum support price of paddy though it is a Central Government prerogative.

The BJD supremo, who addressed a party demonstration here to press for hiking the MSP said that the demand was in line with the Swaminathan Committee’s recommendation and should have been taken care of as committed in its manifesto in 2014 to increase the MSP by at least 50%.

The sit-in Dharna was attended by all BJD MPs, MLAs, panchayat representatives and farmer leaders and farmers of Odisha.

The Chief Minister later led  a delegation to meet President Ramnath Kovind and submitted a memorandum.

“The farmer is the soul of the Indian economy,” the Odisha Chief Minister said, addressing more than 10,000 farmers gathered at Talkatora Stadium.

“I have gone to the Centre many times with this demand, but it has been ignored. It was promised by the BJP also in 2014, but they have forgotten their promise after coming to power,” he said.

Criticizing the Centre, Patnaik said, “The BJP Government came to power with assurances of increasing the minimum support price of food grain as per the Swaminathan formula. The Odisha Assembly in a unanimous resolution requested the Union Government to fix the MSP of paddy at Rupees 2,930 per quintal. All section of farmers of our state are agitating over this continuously without any positive response from the Union Government.”

He also highlighted that the MPs and MLAs have raised this issue several times in various forums, including the Parliament.

“But it has been repeatedly ignored and the price fixed by the Central Government at Rs. 1,750 per quintal for the current Kharif marketing season is unacceptable to the farmers of Odisha,” he said.

The price has been fixed without giving due consideration to the request from Odisha Government, the Chief Minister said adding, “ As the Minimum Support Price being fixed by Government of India for paddy is not commensurate with the rising costs of inputs like seeds, fertilizers, manure, micro nutrient, irrigation charges and hiring charges for farm machineries, the farmers of Odisha are deprived of getting a reasonable price for their produce.”

Keeping the farmers’ welfare at the fore, the Odisha Government has launched the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme, which would benefit about 92 per cent of the farmers in the State, he said.

“The state government has earmarked Rs. 10,180 crore for KALIA in 3 years. The scheme will provide financial, livelihood, cultivation support along with insurance support to small, marginal and the landless farmers. The state government also plans to irrigate 10 lakh hectares of land under the scheme,” he assured.

While KALIA scheme has been receiving appreciation and rave remarks from the experts and agri-economists, BJD feels it is time for the Central government to walk to the talk and revise MSP to help the farmers, he said.

State Health Minister Pratap Jena said, MSP is not only the key distress elevating device, but also an important tool for income generation to the farmers.

“The present Union Government’s stand is unclear. They came into power with the promise of increasing MSP of paddy by 50 per cent of the cost of production and then filed an affidavit in SC on February 21, 2015, saying they cannot increase the price as promised. Senior Ministers have since then been promising to increase the price since 2015 – so we demand immediate attention and clarity on the subject. The farmers of Odisha are completely disillusioned and feel the step-motherly treatment to them is unacceptable,” he said.

Jena said minimum support price of paddy is not only the key distress alleviating device, it is also an important tool for income generation of the farmers.

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