All India Kisan Sabha strongly condemns the insensitive decision of the Congress-led UPA Government to only marginally increase the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of wheat to Rs.1350/- per quintal. AIKS had demanded not less than Rs.1800/- per quintal taking into account the increased costs of production due to rising input costs. The weighted MSP recommended by States was also Rs.1868/- per quintal. The increase recommended by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) is only 5 percent above last year’s MSP. In the same period there has been a manifold increase in prices of fertilisers, irrigation costs and prices of other inputs. Fertiliser prices have risen by around 50 percent, diesel prices by over 45 percent and also labour by at least 20 percent. These have not been factored in while determining the MSP. The decision after an undue delay and more than two months into the Rabi sowing season is not going to incentivise the wheat farmers.
The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and the Government are making a mockery of the plight of the farmers by acting in tandem with the former first seeking a freeze on the MSP and the latter announcing a marginal increase by apparently turning down the proposal and seeking to portray itself as farmer-friendly. Notably the CACP in its Price Policy for Rabi Crops for marketing season 2012-13 had recommended Rs.1350/- per quintal based on rising costs of cultivation. The Government at that time announced an MSP of Rs.1285/- per quintal. A full 12 months after that the CACP called for freezing prices at Rs.1285/- per quintal for marketing season 2013-14. The Government has now accepted the CACP’s recommendation originally made for 2012-13.
Already the recommendation of the CACP to freeze the MSP at the last year’s rate of Rs.1285/- per quintal and the undue delay of the Government in announcing the MSP has had an adverse impact on the area sown which is lower than what it was for the corresponding period last year. Only 25.3 million hectares of wheat has been sown compared to 25.7 million hectares in the same period last year. The low MSP will lead to a further drop in area under wheat in coming days.
The CACP recommendation of “liquidating” stocks to “create space for the new harvest” has been accepted by the Government which has allowed an additional export of 2.5 million tonnes which will bring the total quantity of export from government stock to 4.5 million tonnes. This move comes at a time millions of poor in India are living in a situation of extreme hunger and malnutrition. AIKS demands immediate withdrawal of this retrograde decision and calls upon the Government to distribute wheat through the Public Distribution System.
AIKS calls upon all units to observe protests against the betrayal of wheat farmers by the Government and resist the retrograde announcement.