Pulled up repeatedly by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for failing to come up with a concrete arrangement to ensure that maize crop of farmers in the state was procured at minimum support price fixed by the Centre, the SAD-BJP government led by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday decided to create a Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) to ensure that farmers’ produce was procured at MSP so they could be saved from exploitation on account of selling their crops in the open market.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal gave the nod for creation of the PSF after a meeting with a delegation of Bharti Kissan Union led by Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Ajmer Singh Lakhowal.
“The Price Stabilization Fund would not only help producers of maize get remunerative price, it would also benefit the growers of crops like sunflower and pulses who otherwise struggle to get remunerative price. With such an arrangement in place, the exploitation of growers of such crops in open market will come to an end. When the fund is in place, even Mandi Board can procure the crops. This competitive scenario would automatically force players in open market to pay remunerative prices to farmers,” Lakhowal told The Indian Express.
In a case related to the issue, the Punjab government had been arguing in the court for long that either central agencies should procure maize or the Centre should release advance money for the procurement by state agencies on behalf of the Centre. The state government has argued that due to no demand, maize cannot be used for public distribution system and hence it was not viable to procure it. The Centre, on the other hand, has maintained that it is ready to compensate for losses, if any, when maize is used in public distribution system, but it has been refusing to release any advance money.
While giving his nod for PSF on Monday, Badal said this step would result in a self-sustaining mechanism to ensure better remunerative prices to the peasantry for their produce.
In the run-up 2017 Assembly polls, State Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh has promised loan waiver and hassle-free procurement of farmers’ produce at remunerative price. Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has also been promising sops for farmers.