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PM recently said govt doing everything to double farmers’ income

But on ground: A farmer says he is now earning even lesser than what he made in 2013-14. Why this is happening: Inputs cost increased much more than increase in MSP.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
March 3, 2021 11:29:50 am
Punjab farmerFarmer Avtar Singh of Basti Chirag Shah village in Amiga district.

In his recent speech on the second anniversary of the PM Kisan Scheme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that his government is doing everything to double the farmers’ income and had ushered a historic increase in the Minimum Support Price (MSP). In Punjab, wheat and paddy are procured on MSP by the government, and there has been an increase in the MSP of both major crops in the past around 7 years of the NDA-1 and NDA-2 governments. However, a look into the comparative prices of increased MSP vis-à-vis increase in MSP of both crops indicated a different picture:

As per the records of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), in 2013-14, when the Modi government came into power, the MSP of wheat was Rs 1,350/quintal (under UPA government’s tenure), which was hiked to Rs 1,925 per quintal in 2019-20 and now the MSP of wheat has been announced at Rs 1,975 per quintal for 2021-22 in the coming wheat harvesting season starting April.

The total increase in MSP under NDA-1 and NDA-2 in the past seven years has been recorded Rs 625 per quintal.
Similarly, paddy MSP was Rs 1,345/quintal in 2013-14, which was hiked to now Rs 1,888 per quintal and witnessed an increase of Rs 543 per quintal in past seven years.

On an average, productivity of paddy and wheat is recorded at around 27-28 quintal/acre and 20-21 quintal/acre, respectively, in Punjab. With this yield, a paddy farmer can sell paddy worth Rs 51,000 to Rs 53,000 per acre against Rs 36,315 to Rs 37,660 per acre seven years ago. There is an increase of Rs 15,000 to 16,000 per acre. Similarly, wheat farmers can now sell wheat at Rs 39,500 to Rs 41,475 per acre against Rs 27,000 to Rs 28,350 per acre seven years ago.

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Take the case of Avtar Singh (45), a small farmer with 4.5 acres of land, who grows wheat and paddy on around 15 acres including 10 acres he takes on rent in Basti Chirag Shah village under Dharamkot tehsil of Moga district.

He says that from his paddy field, he gets around 28 quintals paddy and 20 quintals wheat per acre. So his income per acre has increased from Rs 37,660 in 2013-14 to Rs 53,000 in 2020-21, which translates into an increase of Rs 15,340 (40.73 per cent), kharif season by selling paddy of one acre and would earn Rs 39,500 from selling wheat crop in one acre against Rs 27,000, an increase of 12,500 (46.3 per cent) in 2013-14.

“But before calculating my income, the input cost must be included to get the real profit,” he says, adding, “For growing paddy on my own field I used to spend around Rs 9,000 as input cost if the field is mine, otherwise the cost was Rs 24,000 if the field is on rent in 2013-14. But today I am spending Rs 18,000+, which is a 100 per cent increase, input cost per acre on my own field and Rs 43,000, which is a 79.2 per cent increase, if the field is on rent.”

The input cost included around Rs 500 to grow a nursery for a one acre field in 2013-14 (now Rs 1,200), Rs 2,000 to 2,200 per acre labour cost for transplanting nursery into the main field (now Rs 5,000), Rs 1,500 for preparing the field for paddy transplanting which also included three operations of ploughing and one operation of puddling (now Rs 2,500 due to hike in diesel prices), Rs 650 on urea, Rs 1,100 of Dia Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) (now Rs 2,250 on both), Rs 700-800 on the various sprays of weedicides (now Rs 900) and Rs 1,000 for foliar spray on growth and shine of the grain (now Rs 1,500), Rs 900-1,000 to control ‘kala tela’ (black hopper attack), which takes place just before harvesting (now Rs 1,200) and Rs 1,200 for harvesting with combine (now Rs 2,500 for combine attached with Super SMS). In 2013-14, the rent was Rs 30,000 to Rs. 32,000 per acre annually (Rs 15,000 to 16,000 per crop expenditure on rent) and now rent is Rs 50,000 per acre (Rs 25,000 per crop).

“By these calculations, I used to earn Rs 28,660 per acre in 2013-14 from my own field and Rs 13,660 from a rented field after meeting the input cost seven years ago. Now I am earning Rs 35,000, which is an increase 22 per cent, from my field and Rs 10,000 — a decrease of 27 per cent — from rented field after meeting the input cost,” says Avtar Singh.

He adds, “On my own land of 4.5 acres and 10 acres rented, my total income from paddy has in fact decreased and not increased as per PM’s claim because while MSP has definitely increased over these years, the input costs have increased even more.”

Over the past seven years his income has decreased from total earnings of Rs 2.66 lakh in 2013-14 to Rs 2.58 lakh, a decrease of over 3 per cent.

“Government should decrease the input cost so that the actual benefit of MSP can be received by the farmers,” he said.

Similarly, the input cost of wheat was Rs 5,500-6,000 per acre around 7 years back on his own field and around Rs 21,000 per acre on rented fields. Now he is spending around Rs 11,000 input, an increase of 83 per cent, on his own field and Rs 36,000 per acre, an increase of 71 per cent, on the rented field.

The cost included Rs 1,000 on 40 kg seed required for one acre (now around Rs 1,300-1,500 per acre), Rs 700-800 for preparing field and same amount of money was required to sow the seed (now Rs 3,700-4,000 per acre to prepare the field and sowing the wheat), three bags of urea and one bag of DAP used to cost around Rs 1,750 (now Rs 2,250), then 2-3 sprays to control the pest and insect attack and grain growth spray costing around Rs 600-700 per acre (now Rs 1,200-1,500 are required for the same sprays), Rs 1,000-1,200 per acre for harvesting (now Rs 2,500 for combine harvester with Super SMS).

After deducting input cost, he was earning Rs 21,000-21,500 from his own field and Rs 6,000 from rented field and now his earning is Rs 28,000, which is a 33 per cent increase, from his own field and Rs 3,500, a 42 per cent decrease, from the rented field.

“My net income from my land holding has increased by just Rs 6,500 or 4.2 per cent as I was earning Rs 1,54, 500 in 2013-14, which is Rs 1.61 lakh now,” said Singh.

In total, from both crops he was earning Rs 4.20 lakh in 2013-14 which has decreased to Rs 4.18 lakh now, a decrease of 3.6 per cent from both crops.

“In Punjab’s several districts including Bathinda, Sangrur, Mansa, Barnala, part of Patiala etc. the rent of one acre field is between Rs 60,000 to 65,000 per acre and one can imagine what farmers are earning from that,” said Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Bharti Kisan Union (Dakuanda), adding that the farmers’ income has dwindled because of the high input cost and they will not be able to earn any profit unless the MSP is not paid as per recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

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