Madhya Pradesh farmers not getting minimum MSP, some mandis shut in protest
After the outburst earlier this year, anger is again sweeping rural Madhya Pradesh. Farmers and their leaders are furious at not getting minimum support price (MSP) for any of the eight crops in the ambitious Mukhyamantri (Chief Minister) Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana.
The scheme was started to ensure reasonable rates to the farmers for their produce. The difference amount of the declared model rate as compensation was to be deposited directly into the bank accounts of the farmers to ensure a reasonable rate of pulses, oil seeds and horticulture crops.
According to the state government, eight crops have been included under the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana. 19, 7,510 registrations have been made under the scheme. These crops include soybean, groundnut, sesame, niger, maize, moong (green pulse), urad (kidney bean) and toor (split pigeon peas).
The scheme was aimed to provide benefits to the farmers, but it seems to be hurting them instead. The launch of the scheme has pulled down the prices of many crops in mandis across the state. The farmers are upset as the traders are pushing them to drop their produce at low rates and are telling them they can always claim the difference of amount from the government under the scheme.
According to reports, heated arguments have been breaking out in Bhopal, Raisen, Rajgarh, Guna, Narsingpur, Agar-Malwa, Vidisha, Harda, Betul, Ujjain, Badwani districts between farmers’ , farmers traders and mandi (government) officials.
Unhappy with the low rates, the farmers mounted strong protests in Begumganj Krishi Mandi, Byawra Krishi mandi. Due to protests, mandis were closed in Raisen, Vidisha, Rajgarh and Harda.
On Thursday afternoon, Harda Mandi was closed down following heated exchange of words between the farmers, traders and mandi officials. The farmers were unhappy with the fact that despite the CM’s announcement, they are unable to get cash payment up to Rs 50,000 that doesn’t violate any income tax law.
Similarly, Rajgarh district’s Biaora Mandi had to be closed down after farmers protested against the low price offered by traders for soybean – Rs 2,000- Rs 2,500 – when the MSP is Rs 3,500.
In one another incident, a senior government official had to face the anger of farmers.
Bhopal Commissioner Ajatshatru Shrivastava reached Vidisha Mandi on Wednesday to examine the complaints. The farmers raised slogans in opposition to the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana scheme launched by the state government when he told them to wait for some more time to sell their produce to the traders who are offering lower prices as compared to the MSP.
The commissioner was unable to understand that farmers cannot store grains for long. They lack shortage facilities, and most of the farm produce gets spoiled if not stored properly. Moreover, the state is yet to set up community-managed silos to help farmers store grains for long.
All talk, no results
In a video conference held last week with collectors and commissioner, the chief minister said that – “they must ensure that the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana is started to provide reasonable prices to the farmers”.
He instructed that intensive inspections of Krishi Upaj Mandis should be conducted to ensure that farmers get correct prices for their produce and actually benefit from the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana.
The farmers’ are complaining that in the Harda Mandi, urad is available at a low price for Rs 2,200 to Rs 2400 per quintal. However, the MSP of urad is Rs 5,400 per quintal and in the other parts of the country, the market price of Urad is Rs 3,300 – Rs 3,600 per quintal.
Though the MSP of maize is Rs 1,425 per quintal, traders are not ready to purchase it for anything higher than Rs 1,000 per quintal.
Similarly, the state government has fixed Rs 5,450 as the minimum price for toor.
However, in the 385 mandis across the state, farmers are unable to get more than Rs 2,600 per quintal. Similar is the case with moong. The MSP of moong is Rs 5,575 per quintal but in the mandis, traders are buying it for Rs 3,800 per quintal from the farmers. The support price of soybean is Rs 3,050 per quintal but traders are buying it for Rs 2,500 per quintal.
The scheme was launched on 16 October by the chief minister with much fanfare in Khurai Krishi Upaj Mandi of Sagar district. His cabinet colleagues launched the scheme in 26 districts and Members of Parliament, MLAs and public representatives took part in the remaining districts as chief guests. On the same day, the state government organised farmers’ conventions in 257 mandis across the state.
The money matter
On occasions, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has maintained that there is no prohibition on the limit of cash withdrawal from the bank account for the traders. Cash payment up to Rs 50,000 can be made by the mandi traders to several farmers in a day. Moreover, this cash payment up to Rs 50,000 will not violate any income tax law.
However, confusion of the farmers and traders persists across the state. The traders are expressing their inability to make cash payments as they will be liable to a penalty for making payments of more than Rs 2 lakhs.
“It is not possible for all the traders to make a cash payment of Rs 50,000 against every purchase. If a trader makes a cash payment of more than Rs 2 lakh, automatically he will come under the lens of Income Tax department,” said Sanjeev Jain, spokesperson of Bhopal Grain and Oil Seeds Merchants Association.
According to Jagdish Singh, state president of Bhartiya Kisan Union –
“There are several discrepancies in the state government’s Bhawantar Yojna scheme. The scheme has been launched to ignore the demands of the farmers that the government has promised to the farmers. The chief minister has once again the betrayed the farmers.”
The state government has arrested some farmer leaders from Karond Mandi in Bhopal alleging that they were trying to misguide some of the farmers.
“We have arrested three farmer leaders from the Mandi on the basis of a complaint made by some of the officials. In their complaint, the officials have alleged that some people are trying to misguide farmers who have come to the mandi to sell their produce,” Nishatpura Police Station told this correspondent.
The three have been identified as – Anil Yadav, Shailesh Yadav and Suresh Patidar, said the police.
Passing the blame
Facing the ire of farmers and traders, the state government decided to put the blame on traders.
“The traders should give proper and suitable prices of their produce to the peasants. The scheme is for the peasants and not for the traders,” Agriculture Minister Dr Gauri Shankar Bisen said.
He added that the government has issued warnings to the traders. In case, they do not fall in line, action will be taken against them.
Meanwhile, Ashok Barnwal principal secretary to chief minister maintained that the state government is ready to remove the discrepancies in the scheme.
Madhya Pradesh had witnessed violent protest during the ten-day agitation called by farmers’ association in the state in June this year demanding good prices for their farm produce and loan waiver.
Though the agitation in June began on a peaceful note, it turned violent with protestors spilling milk and other farm products, blocking roads and forcefully shutting down business establishments and markets and killing of five farmers in police firing in Mandsaur district.