Opponents of Farm Bills need to see Budget figures on MSP based procurement

The data shared by the Union Government as part of the Budget process for fiscal 21-22 should allay concerns of those thinking that the new farm bills spell doomsday for farmers. The activists fronting for the farmers are claiming the government will do away with Minimum Support Price (MSP), stop buying totally from farmers, and leave India’s Food Security in the hands of the rapacious private sector corporates.

This is skullduggery and scaremongering.

No government in India can ever abandon MSP, and vacate food security to the private sector. Farmer and Food are holy cows. No government will dare, or even want to, mess with them.

The numbers presented by Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Finance Minister, in her Budget speech on the floor of the parliament bear this out.

Check some data points:

  • In case of wheat, the total amount paid to farmers in 2013-2014 was Rs 33,874 crores. In 2019-2020 it was Rs 62,802 crores, and even better, in 2020-2021, this amount, paid to farmers, was Rs 75,060 crores. The number of wheat growing farmers that were benefitted increased in 2020-21 to 43.36 lakhs as compared to 35.57 lakhs in 2019-20.
  • For paddy, the amount paid in 2013-14 was Rs63,928 crores. In 2019-2020 this increased Rs1,41,930 crores. Even better, in 2020-2021, this is further estimated to increase to Rs172,752 crores. The number of farmers benefitted increased from 1.24 crores in 2019-20 to 1.54 crores in 2020-21.
  • In the same vein, in case of pulses, the amount paid in 2013-2014 was Rs236 crores. In 2019-20 it increased Rs8,285 crores. Now, in 2020-2021, it is at Rs10,530 crores, a more than 40 times increase from 2013-14.
  • The receipts to cotton farmers have seen a stupendous increase from Rs90 crores in 2013-14 to Rs25,974 crores (as on 27th January 2021).

If the government were planning to reduce procurement to zero, would it have been increasing procurement under MSP program so aggressively? Government procurement cannot go down. These numbers are publicly reported, and farmers are the biggest vote bank. Prime Minister Modi or his ministers have no death wish. No amount of private sector lobbying compensates for a lost election. So, the opposition allegations, that BJP government has sold out to Adani-Ambani, are bit far-fetched in this case. Sure the new bills can allow these corporates to build a large business, but the government will risk farmer votes for this.

Also see the data below:

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