Centre goes all out to woo agitating farmers

Centre goes all out to woo agitating farmers

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The Modi government is pulling out all stops to woo agitating farmers by increasing procurement centres for kharif, promising to spend more on buying at MSP rates, which could benefit 32 lakh more farmers.

Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal also sent out invites to representatives of farmers in Punjab to address their concerns related to the three farm sector reforms unveiled by the government and clear misgivings, an offer that was turned down.

“Farmers organisations from Punjab have turned down the invitation," Avik Saha, general secretary, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, said.

Top government officials associated with the procurement process addressed a joint press conference on Wednesday to assure the farmers that the MSP regime would continue and that the government has made elaborate arrangements for the same.

Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the government is setting up 8,581 more procurement centres, taking the total number to 39,130 so that farmers have easy access to sell their paddy crop.

“The Food Corporation of India and state agencies are all set to procure a record quantity of 738 lakh tonnes of paddy (497 lakh tonnes in terms of rice) during the ongoing kharif crop (season) as against 627 lakh tonnes of paddy in the year-ago (period),” he said.

He said 1.56 crore farmers were expected to be benefited from the rice procurement operations during the ongoing kharif marketing season as against 1.24 crore the previous year, an increase of 32 lakh farmers.

The Centre also planned to spend 21% this kharif season on procurement of food grains at MSP rate. “Last year, Rs 1.15 lakh crore was transferred to farmers during the season and this year the figure is expected to be around Rs 1.40 lakh crore,” Pandey said.

Based on the proposal from the states, the Centre has also approved procurement of 30.17 lakh metric tonnes of pulses and oilseeds for Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha.

It has also sanctioned the procurement of 1.23 lakh metric tonnes of copra for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.