The Madhya Pradesh government is set to roll out a populist scheme to compensate farmers when they are forced to sell their crops below the minimum support price (MSP) in mandis. The move by the government comes after recent protests by farmers over better minimum support price for produce. Under the scheme, that is likely to be cleared by the cabinet at its Tuesday meeting, the government will directly deposit in a farmers’ bank account the difference between the MSP and a modal price decided after taking into account the average selling price in three big mandis over two months or so.
To begin with, nine kharif crops, including soybean, groundnut, maize, sesame, moong and arhar, have been covered under the scheme that will be extended to some rabi crops, depending on the outcome of the pilot. These commodities will be sold between October 16 and December 15. The farmers will be paid the difference after December 15.
The registration of farmers will begin from September 1. Besides personal details like phone number, bank account details and Aadhaar number, the farmers will have to share details of cultivation and acreage. While making the actual payment, the average yield in that particular district will be taken into account to discourage misuse of the scheme by farmers and traders, sources told The Indian Express.
Explaining the scheme, an officer said if the MSP for soybean is Rs 3,050 per quintal and a farmer sells it for Rs 2,200, he will not get Rs 850 but Rs 550 if the average rate that prevailed in big mandis of three states over a certain period of time is Rs 2,500 per quintal.
Calling the scheme Mukhyamantri Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana, Chief Minister Shiraj Singh Chouhan said giving remunerative price was the highest priority of his government. He admitted that the government does not want to saddle itself with actual procurement because it keeps staff busy for days, farmers have to queue up outside procurement centres in addition to difficulties like lack of storage capacity.
Former agriculture director G S Kaushal said the scheme is fraught with complications and likely to have its share of irregularities. “What if traders refuse to buy in mandis. They can’t be forced,’’ he said, adding that he had doubts about the scheme. Shivkant Dixit of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), an organisation affiliated with the RSS, said the scheme will work in a big way. In the last few years, the state claims to have scripted a remarkable growth in agriculture.