Budget 2018: BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah has been winning every crucial states. But farmers’ distress in rural regions of the BJP-ruled states has become an issue of concern for the party. Now the central government and BJP-ruled states are eyeing Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana launched by the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh to tackle the issue. BJP wants to address the issue of depressed domestic agricultural commodity prices ahead of the mega Union Budget 2018, according to IE report.
This comes after BJP had suffered setbacks in Gujarat’s rural areas during the recently-concluded assembly elections, mainly due to agrarian distress. The scheme was launched by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in October in the wake of simmering discontent among farmers in the state that led to protests in Mandsaur in June. These protests were followed by a farmers’ agitation in BJP-ruled Rajasthan.
“Despite hiking the floor prices of food grains and pulses, the domestic prices of several crops are below the MSP (Minimum Support Price). The central government is seriously examining options to ensure the advantage of higher MSP flows to the farmers,” said highly placed sources in the central government. “Using procurement as a relief mechanism (which is available to major crops like wheat and paddy) for farmers will require a new policy as the FCI-type central procurement is not possible for most crops,” according to report. “The government is contemplating various schemes where state governments can be incentivised to step in when prices plunge below MSP… In that context, the government is looking at the experimental measure of Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana in Madhya Pradesh,” the report says.
Apart from the Centre, many states have shown interest in replicating the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana. They include not just the BJP-ruled states of Maharashtra, UP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Haryana, but also Karnataka, Odisha and Telangana. Officials of UP, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra have already visited Madhya Pradesh to gather information about the scheme’s rollout and efficacy.
Notably, in October, Madhya Pradesh set the MRs at Rs 2,580 per quintal for soyabean (against an MSP of 3,050), Rs 3,000 for urad (Rs 5,400), Rs 4,120 for moong (Rs 5,575), Rs 3,720 for groundnut (Rs 4,450) and Rs 1,190 for maize (Rs 1,425). In November, the MRs were revised to Rs 2,640 for soyabean, Rs 3,070 for urad, Rs 4,120 for moong, Rs 3,570 for groundnut and Rs 1,100 for maize. In the case of til and ramtil, farmers were not given any price difference, as the market prices were above the MSP.