With a view to bailing out farmers in distress, the Madhya Pradesh government will make good the difference between the minimum support price (MSP) and prevailing modal price. This is a first-of-its-kind initiative to compensate farmers in case of a sharp fall in prices of agricultural produce. “In case farmers sell their produce at a price below MSP but above modal prices, then the state government will transfer the difference between actual sales realisation and MSP. If the farmers sold his stocks at the price below the modal prices, then the government would reimburse the difference between MSP and modal prices,” Rajesh Rajora, principal secretary (agriculture), told FE. The ‘price deficit finance scheme’ that is expected to get a nod from the state cabinet next week, will cover nine kharif crops including pulses (moong, urad and arhar), oilseeds (soyabean and groundnut) and maize as a pilot initiative. Around 35 lakh farmers of a total of 70 lakh farmers who grow oilseeds, pulses and maize in Madhya Pradesh are expected to enrol themselves with the scheme in the first year. The state government would deposit the money into farmers’ bank accounts and this will be done through dedicated portals by MP Civil Supplies Corporation (MPCSC) and Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative Marketing Federation (Markfed).
The amount given will be the difference between the MSP and a modal price based on the average selling price in the big mandis in key producing states including Madhya Pradesh over a two-month period. According to Rajora, the registration or enrolment of farmers under the scheme would be carried out between September 1-30, on the portals of the MPCSC and Markfed. The state government has asked around 3,000 primary agricultural cooperative societies to help farmers register with the portal where details like Aadhaar numbers, bank account details, details of the crop cultivated and average yield would be uploaded. The scheme would cover tenant farmers as well. The designated mandis in the state would upload the details about the sale and purchase by farmers on the respective portals to ensure payments to farmers after the purchase session is over.
For actual payment to farmers, the average yield in a particular district will also taken into account to discourage misuse of the scheme by farmers and traders. While the state government is currently working out the cost of implementing such schemes, Rajora said that the key aim of the scheme is protect farmers against sharp fall in prices and curb losses incurred by state agencies in procurement of agricultural commodities and subsequently disposal in the market. The MP government would also approach the Centre for financial assistance to run the scheme. The Madhya Pradesh government had purchased around 9 lakh tonnes of onions at Rs 8 per kg from farmers in June this year following a protest. The farmers protests took a violent turn on June 6, when five persons were killed in police firing at Mandsaur. However, subsequently, state agencies like Markfed found it difficult to sale the stocks in the open market, thus incurring huge loses. A few years ago, Goa had initiated a similar scheme in a limited way for paddy and betel nuts (supari).