Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Singh Badal today questioned the Narendra Modi government on its minimum support price (MSP) policy and also called upon Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to clarify his stand on this sensitive issue, that till now is the bedrock of the food policy in the country.
He referred to the letter written by Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan to all the state governments in this context restricting procurement to their requirements under the public distribution system (PDS). He said as per reports, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh governments had protested against this policy.
The Union food ministry in the same order has also objected to the bonus being given by the state governments over and above the MSP. “Both the Union food ministry and Badal must clarify whether this order related only to the procurement of those crops on which respective state governments are giving bonus or the procurement on the MSP in general also. Punjab is the state whose contribution to the central food pool is the highest and its adverse impact is going to be felt the maximum here,” he said.
He recalled it was during the earlier NDA regime that a proposal had been formulated to do away with the procurement policy. This system had been introduced to protect the interests of the farmers. However, that proposal had to be shelved under pressure from the state governments. He pointed out both Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh had already lodged their protests with the Centre and both these state governments were governed by the BJP.
He said Badal had been claiming himself to be the biggest champion of the farmers, but his government had maintained a total silence on such a sensitive issue.
The efforts at crop diversification in Punjab had failed because of the absence of guaranteed procurement and green revolution had become a success mainly because of assured marketing. In case this system was discontinued, it might affect the food security of the country.