Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that the Government has not only implemented the recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee to increase MSP to 1.5 times of the cost of production but it increased MSP in the range of 40-70% in case of all crops and expenditure of procurement at MSP increased by 85% in 2014-19 from 2009-14.
He added that the budget of the Department of Agriculture has gone up six times in as many years. Hardeep Singh Puri informed that MSP is an administrative mechanism and added that the laws specifically provide layers of protection for our farmers, giving them legal safeguards to counter any unwarranted claims of corporates.
The Government has clearly stated in the laws that such acquisition or leasing of land of our farmers will not be allowed in any case. He said that our farmers are the stewards of land, soil and forests and land is truly like their mother. They have dedicated their lives, blood and sweat to its care, he further said.
He emphasises that the Government would not allow anyone to come and take their land from them.
Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Amul co-operative success has shown that despite the fragmented small scale producer system that might be present in a sector, people can come together to create a raging success story. He added that today, Amul is not just producing milk, but much of its revenue comes from processed foods exported worldwide. This is the kind of success story we want for our farmers through these reforms. He added that the government has created 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations which bring small and marginal farmers together and give them access to social capital, information and negotiating power.
Hardeep Singh Puri informed that the Prime Minister launched the 100thKisan Rail from Maharashtra to Bengal where farmers can send their 50-100 kgs produce in cold chain coaches. He added that Rs 1 lakh crore Agri- Infrastructure Fund has been created so that there is access to capital to build essential infrastructure space like warehouses, cold stores, sorting, grading and packaging units, rural marketing platforms, e-marketing units, etc. The Kisan Samman Nidhi (Rs 1,10,000 crore have already been paid under this) supports our farmers and alleviates subsistence issues while protecting their dignity, which used to cause severe distress to our small and marginal farmers. He further said that the crop insurance mechanism, the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Fasal Bima Yojana has paid Rs. 87,000 crores as insurance to farmers against a premium of Rs 17,450 crores.
Hardeep Singh Puri said that Punjab and Haryana account for around 30% of the national food production and around 70% of our MSP procurement happens from these states. He added that a 2018 study by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development showed that 52.5 per cent of all agricultural households were indebted, with an average debt of $1,470. He added that 30% of the crops produced continue to get wasted due to a lack of proper cold chain infrastructure required to safeguard the perishable produce. Additionally, the agriculture sector remains immensely fragmented due to many intermediaries, who often have huge margins. He further said that our hard-working farmers can turn our agriculture intensive states into the granaries of the world. He reiterated that the agricultural reform laws intend to create the right ecosystem to support them, guide them and make them Atma Nirbhar.