Punjab agri director slams wheat MSP hike

Accusing the Centre of sucking the blood of farmers, the director of agriculture in Punjab, Mangat Singh Sandhu on Saturday blasted the union government's decision to increase the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat by 'only' Rs 65. "Rising above the lines of political parties, government should provide some relief to the farmers and increase MSP to at least Rs 1,750 per quintal," he told The Indian Express here.

" We sent the proposal of Rs 1,750 as MSP to the central government after calculating all the basic costs of input and this increase of Rs 65 is a complete mockery for an agrarian state like Punjab," he said before adding that the state completely endorsed Dr Swaminathan's report, which talks of 50 per cent profits for farmers. Criticizing the policies of central government of promoting wheat and paddy in north-east and asking farmers of Punjab to adopt diversification, he said, "They are behaving like Mohammad Tughlaq who shifted his capital. Instead of promoting the crops which we import in north-east, they are expecting Punjab to spoil its set mechanism of wheat and paddy."

" Even if they want Punjab farmers to adopt other crops, where is the assured marketing and MSP? They should have announced MSP before sowing but they delayed deliberately so that farmers get entangled and adopt other crops," he said.

Negative approach to diversification

Dr R S Sidhu, dean, college of basic sciences, Punjab Agricultural University, and an economist, said that apart from providing an inadequate MSP, the Centre was also adopting a negative attitude to diversification.

" There has been an increase in MSP of only 5 per cent while there is a significant rise in prices of diesel, labour, fertilisers along with Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 increase in rent value per acre. In addition, farmers also get hit by inflation. The Rs 65 hike is completely inadequate and meaningless," said Dr Sidhu.

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