While procurement of kharif 2018 crops under PM-AASHA — the reinforced price support scheme for pulses and oilseeds — continues to be quite low, Madhya Pradesh is the only state keen on implementing a price deficiency support scheme for the kharif 2018 crop. It has announced a plan to ensure the minimum support price (MSP) benefit for about 48 lakh tonnes of soyabean and maize sans procurement.
Though not a single rupee has been paid yet to farmers under even MP’s Bhavantar scheme (the crop arrivals started five months ago), the price support for such crop volume would entail a payout of over Rs 1,000 crore. While the state has approved payment of over Rs 560 crore for maize farmers, a panel has been asked to work out the payment to be made to soyabean farmers.
The Congress, which won the Assembly election after a gap of 15 years on the back of its farm loan waiver promise, cannot ignore the resentment at a time when the Lok Sabha election is due in April-May. The state is waiting for the release of the Central share of about Rs 320 crore before disbursing the payment to soyabean farmers, while maize growers are likely to get the differential amount by month-end, according to sources.
The state government has decided to pay at Rs 250 per quintal to 2.85 lakh farmers who sold 22.6 lakh tonne of maize in different mandis since October 1, 2018, an official said, referring to a notification on March 5. Before the state Assembly election last year, then chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced a flat amount of up to Rs 500 for each quintal of soyabean and maize sold by farmers to compensate them for selling their crops below MSPs. The MSP of soyabean was increased 11% to Rs 3,399 per quintal and that of maize 19% to Rs 1,700 per quintal for the 2018 kharif season to meet an electoral commitment of the BJP for fixing the benchmark prices at 50% over the cost of production.
Chief minister Kamal Nath’s own constituency Chhindwara is the biggest producer of maize in the state while Madhya Pradesh is the largest grower of soyabean in the country.“The state government has already requested the Centre to bear the payment costs for soyabean under Bhavantar for 2018 crop since it was approved under the PM-AASHA scheme,” the official said.
According to the guidelines under the scheme, the state can cover 25% of production of a crop either under PSS or under the Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS). The PDPS does not entail physical procurement and farmers are paid the differential amount between MSP and ‘mandi price’. Since the estimated production of soyabean in the state during the kharif 2018 was about 67 lakh tonne, the Centre had allowed it to implement the PDPS for 16.82 lakh tonne of the crop. However, over 8.5 lakh farmers have sold more than 25 lakh tonne of soyabean and want to be covered under PDPS.