No MSP But States Can Fix Cane Prices

New Delhi, Nov 5: | Updated: Nov 6 2003, 05:30am hrs
The government has made clear that the governments of Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Punjab still have the option of fixing the cane prices as they have not yet accepted the package doled out by the Centre. The Centre is unable to declare minimum support prices (MSPs) for kharif crops at this stage as the Election Comm-ission (EC) has objected to it.

But farmers association has opposed the view stating that it is a routine work of the government and cannot be objected to EC. It said that EC cannot withhold the payment of salary to government servants and the non-declaration of crop prices tantamounts to withholding payments to farmers. The association has also blamed the government for withholding the declaration of MSP on the pretext of ECs possible objection.

Union agriculture minister Rajnath Singh speaking at the sidelines of international workshop on agricultural diversification in South Asia organised by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) said nothing prevents the UP government from announcing cane prices. They have not yet accepted the central package that restrains them from fixing state advised prices (SAPs) for sugarcane in the coming season. Now that cane crushing is in progress the state governments should go ahead and fix SAP.

Mr Singh further expressed the Centres inability to fix either the statutory minimum price (SMP) for cane or the minimum support prices (MSPs) for kharif crops in view of possible objections by EC. He, however, admitted that the MSP should be fixed much before the cultivation season and in future the government would follow this procedure.

Criticising the statement of agriculture minister, farmer leaders Choudhry Mahinder Singh Tikait and VM Singh of Kisan Mazdoor Sangh said the revision of MSP and SMP was a routine work of the government which should not be delayed and accused the Centre of seeking pretexts.