The government Saturday ordered the immediate commencement of paddy procurement in Punjab and Haryana owing to the early arrival of the harvest in mandis, advancing the kharif marketing season by almost a week in the two states that have seen the most vocal protests against the contentious farm reforms.
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the government has taken the “extraordinary” step to help farmers. “… Orders have been issued and State procurement agencies and FCI have been mobilized fully to start operations in view of early paddy arrivals in Mandis,” he tweeted.
Later, in a statement, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said: “The Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2020-21 for paddy / rice is already scheduled to commence in all the procuring States w.e.f. 1st of October, 2020 and State Procuring Agencies including FCI are in a state of readiness …”
“However, in view of early arrival of paddy in the ‘mandies’ of Haryana and Punjab, Government of India has approved the commencement of procurement operations for paddy / rice immediately in both these States from today i.e. with effect from 26th September, 2020 to ensure that farmers are facilitated in selling produce at Minimum Support Price (MSP) expeditiously,” the statement said.
“Orders for commencement of procurement operations for paddy /rice from 26th September, 2020 in Haryana and Punjab have been issued,” it added.
The move comes at a time farmers, particularly those in Punjab and Haryana, are protesting against The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. Their primary objection is to the first Bill, which provides for the creation of a “trade area” outside the existing APMC Mandis.
While there is no mention of the MSP mechanism in any of the three Bills, farmers fear that if the mandi system comes to an end, MSP will soon follow. The government maintains that the MSP system will continue.
“We have declared Rabi MSP before sowing of crops and the kharif crop is due in a few days, which will be procured on MSP. The PM has saidMSP will continue, so why does anyone need to worry? And MSP has nothing to do with these bills. The bills deal with trade outside the mandi premises,” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told The Indian Express earlier this week.
The government fixes the MSP of 22 “mandated agricultural crops” and the ‘fair and remunerative price’ for Sugarcane based on the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines