Agriculture

Madhya Pradesh assembly elections: Will MSP promises make a difference?

Madhya Pradesh government at present is buying 36% of wheat produce, 19% of paddy from farmers

 
By Rakesh Kumar Malviya
Published: Friday 17 November 2023
In Madhya Pradesh, BJP has promised to increase the MSP of paddy to Rs 3,100 per quintal. Photo: Rakesh Kumar Malviya__

The Legislative Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh (MP) began November 17, 2023 to elect all 230 members of the House. Many issues have dominated the pre-poll campaigning in the last two months, but farmers’ troubles have come to the forefront this time. 

Minimum support price (MSP) for farmers is the second point in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manifesto. The Congress manifesto also prioritised farmers, proving both major parties are trying to woo farmers in MP for votes. 

The Congress has announced an MSP of Rs 2,600 per quintal for wheat and Rs 2,500 per quintal for paddy for farmers and the BJP has promised Rs 2,700 per quintal for wheat and Rs 3,100 for paddy.

In the Kharif season of 2023-24, the state government has set the MSP of paddy at Rs 2,183 per quintal and wheat at Rs 2,015 per quintal. 

Wheat is the main crop of Rabi season in the state. In 2021-22, wheat was grown on 9.8 million hectares of land and paddy was grown on 3.4 million hectares of land in MP, according to data from the Directorate of Farmers Welfare and Agriculture under the state government. About 35.7 million tonnes of wheat and 12.5 million tonnes of rice was produced. 

The government had purchased 12.8 million tonnes of wheat in 2021-22 and 2.5 million tonnes in the year 2022-23 at MSP.  

Crop production in MP

Season

Crop

Acreage

Production

Government procurement

Governement procurement in %

Number of farmers benefitted

Rabi season 2023

Wheat

9.8 million hectares

35.6 million tonnes

12.8 million tonnes

35%

2,472,000

Kharif season 2022

Paddy

3.4 million hectares

12.5 million tonnes

2.5 million tonnes

19%

590,000

Source: MP Madhya Pradesh Economic Survey

Data from the MP Madhya Pradesh Economic Survey 2022-23 showed that the government is currently purchasing only about 35 per cent of the wheat yield and 19 per cent of the paddy yield. Farmers in the state are upset over the low procurement numbers.  

While there are arrangements for purchasing at MSP through cooperative societies in the state, there are issues at many levels, like late state of procurement, lack of adequate arrangement of gunny bags, waiting for several days for weighing, delayed payments, deduction of farmers’ loans directly from the payment, etc. 

Farmers sometimes end up selling their crops in open markets despite receiving lower prices under pressure from influential people.    

According to Irfan Jafri of farmers’ union Kisan Jagriti Sangathan, a Rs 100 bonus was previously given on wheat in Madhya Pradesh, but it has been discontinued for several years. “Farmers have been asking for MSPs for a long time, but our demands are still unmet. In such a case, these poll promises of high MSPs appear to be just a campaign statement and we are unsure of them,” he said. 

The party in office did not raise the MSP when they had the power to do so, said Babulal Dahiya, a farmer from Satna district. “These announcements at election time seem like an attempt to woo the voters. Every year, the MSP increases at a snail’s pace despite promises to double farmers’ income. If Congress manifesto did not mention MSP, then the ruling part would have not said anything about it,” he said. 

Before the last assembly elections, the manifestoes promised loan waivers for farmers. However, there was later much debate between the ruling party and the opposition about whether or not the loan should be waived.

Arrangements that benefit small and marginal farmers are needed, said Shiv Sharma, associated with the farmers’ union. “These farmers have already sold their crops in the open market at very low prices because they needed the money immediately. Bigger farmers can afford to wait for MSP. If the MSP continues just benefit one section of farmers, then more needs to be done. These actions are not in the poll promises,” said Sharma.  

Farmers' issues have been mentioned in party manifestos, but basic questions have been ignored, said Jaswinder Singh, associated with agricultural movements. “There may be immediate relief but these are still far from the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission,” he said. 

The plight of farmers has come to the centre of politics due to the farmers' movement in the last few years, said Rajkumar Sinha, an activist associated with social movements. “But farmers must remain alert and stay organised so these poll promises are fulfilled,” Sinha said. 

Ram Bharos Basotia, state vice-president of farmers’ union Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, said mentioning MSP in promises is not enough and whichever party takes office must keep its promises. “If they don’t fulfill these promises, we will not leave the issue and keep reminding them of it,” he said.

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