Alleging that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has refused to give them time to highlight the plight of the farmers,a Left Front delegation led by CPM legislator Anisur Rehman on Friday met Agriculture Minister Rabindranath Bhattacharjee and requested him to mount pressure on the Centre to ensure procurement of jute from farmers at the Minimum Support Price (MSP). He also said the Centre should give the state more subsidy on fertilisers to bring prices under control.
The Left leaders also urged the minister to force Jute Corporation of India (JCI) to procure jute directly from farmers in order to save them from middlemen who buy jute from farmers at a much lower rate.
The Left MLAs alleged that jute farmers were being forced to sell their produce below the production cost in the absence of strong surveillance.
The Swaminathan Committee had fixed the MSP at 150 per cent of the production cost of jute. But in reality,jute farmers are selling their produce at prices below the production cost which is Rs 2,340 per quintal. The JCI has to purchase jute directly from the farmers at the MSP, Rehman said and alleged that he sought time from the CM to highlight the plight of the jute farmers.
But the Chief Minister did not give us time, Rehman alleged.
Though the Centre had agreed in principle to the Swaminathan Commissions recommendations,it fixed the MSP for jute at a level far less than the production cost, DSP MLA Prabodh Sinha said.
The state government must ask the Centre to increase the jute MSP. The price of fertilisers and other inputs have been rising. This is happening because of decontrol. The ruling party of West Bengal enjoys power at the Centre,so it should create pressure on the Centre to bring the fertiliser prices under control, Rehman said.
The state government has to be given power to procure jute to curb the menace of middlemen,they demanded.
To our utter surprise,the price of jute has been falling even though the demand is rising. How is this possible? Rehman asked. The jute harvesting has started in North Bengal and it is yet to start in South Bengal.
The Left leaders demanded that the term of repayment of loan taken by the farmers,who have suffered losses due to inadequate rainfall in south Bengal and excess rainfall in north Bengal,has to be expanded. More loans have to be given to them to cover the losses and alternative farming has to be encouraged,Rehman said.