Odisha’s hopes dashed as Centre rules out paddy MSP hike

Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s hopes of a hike in minimum support price (MSP) of paddy were dashed after the Centre in Parliament today ruled out chances of an increase citing that the government is already providing adequate margins to farmers.

In a written reply, Union minister of State for Agriculture, Gajendra Singh Sekhawat said that the Centre has fixed the paddy MSP at Rs 1,550 for 2017-18 financial year which provides a profit margin of Rs 433 per quintal over all-India weighted average cost of production of Rs 1,117 per quintal as estimated by the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP).

In his reply, the union minister also stated that the MSPs fixed by the government provides adequate returns over all-India weighted average costs of production and so there is no proposal to change the formula for determining MSPs at present.

The statements of the union minister sparked a blame game between the ruling-BJD and the State BJP in Odisha which had constituted an Assembly House Committee to press for a hike in Paddy MSP. Congress too came down heavily on the Centre for overlooking the interests of the State.

Odisha Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy said “When the farmers are bearing a loss of Rs 500 per quintal at present how did the union government say they earn profit of Rs 433. The union minister has not reviewed the situation properly. His comments are unwarranted and utter disrespect towards the farming community.”

Congress leader Narsingha Mishra also criticised the Centre saying that it has betrayed the farming community of Odisha.

On the other hand, BJP countered the arguments with party vice president Samir Mohanty saying that the comments of the Union Minister was for the entire country. “It is not only Odisha but the rates were fixed for the entire country. So why is the ruling BJD trying to pass the buck,” he questioned.

Earlier on Friday the BJD raised the issue of MSP hike in Rajya Sabha demanding the Centre to increase it to Rs 2,930 per quintal – a move which was also supported by other parties, including Congress, Samajwadi Party and CPI.

According to estimates by Odisha government, farmers have to spend Rs 2,344 as input cost for producing one quintal of paddy.

It is to be noted that the Union Government had earlier rejected Odisha’s demands for hike in MSP in November last year.