Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday demanded that the Centre should announce a bonus of Rs 700 per quintal over and above the support price of the millets to promote their cultivation. The central government has already declared the minimum support price (MSP) of ragi at Rs 1,725/quintal, jowar hybrid at Rs 1,625/quintal and Jowar Maldani at Rs 1,650/quintal for the 2016-17 crop year (July-June).
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Raising the issue in a meeting with Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, Siddaramaih said: “We strongly urge an enhancement of MSP of ragi and jowar for this season. Since MSP is already announced, at this stage declaration of bonus can be considered as an option.”
“Hence, I request the Government of India to announce bonus of Rs 700 for ragi and jowar over and above MSP to help small and marginal farmers at one hand and benefit the poor consumers on the other,” he said.
In a representation made to the Agriculture Ministry, the Karnataka Chief Minister said that the state wants to promote production of these two nutri-cereals, which are “climate smart crops” can be grown in rainfed and drought-prone areas.
Since these two millets are far superior from nutrition point of view when compared with rice and wheat, the state government has started supplying ragi and jowar through the public distribution system, he said.
There is a need to promote cultivation of these millets by giving good support price, Siddaramaiah said because at present total acreage and production of ragi and jowar in the state are showing a decline.
Ragi acreage has come down to 7.08 lakh hectare in 2014-15 from 9.39 lakh hectare in 2015-06, while jowar area has come down to 10.46 lakh hectare from 15.20 lakh hectare in the said period, he said.
“In addition to low yields, prices of millet at the farm gate level are also very low and farmers lose money by cultivating millets. In view of the above, we make a strong plea to enhance the MSP declared for these two nutri-cereals,” he said in the representation. Karnataka contributes 62 per cent to the country’s total ragi production.