Farmers protest: ‘Delhi chalo’ march on hold as govt proposes 5-year MSP plan

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
3 Min Read

New Delhi: Farmers from states surrounding Delhi have temporarily suspended their march to the capital following the Union government’s proposition of a five-year plan to purchase pulses, maize, and cotton crops from them at the minimum support price (MSP).

The fourth round of discussions between leaders of the protesting farmers and the Union government in Chandigarh concluded late Sunday.

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The protesting farmers have requested a two-day period to deliberate on the government’s proposal within their forums, while decisions on their other crucial demands are still pending.

MSP, a government-fixed price, serves to safeguard farmers from significant declines in crop prices, acting as a safety net to prevent losses.

“Cooperative societies like the NCCF and Nafed will engage with farmers growing tur dal, urad dal, masoor dal, or maize to procure their crops at MSP for the next five years,” stated Union Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal after meeting with the farmers.

“Cereals like arhar or tur, urad, if brought under MSP, would lead to a reduction in imports, recover the depleted water level of Punjab, as well as provide economic pulses for consumers,” he added.

According to the proposal, the National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Ltd and the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd will enter into contracts with farmers for the next five years to procure crops, with no limits on the quantity.

Goyal mentioned that the farmers have also insisted on including maize and cotton under MSP.

“For cotton, the Cotton Corporation of India will procure the entire crop at MSP, and farmer leaders will convey their decision regarding the proposal by Monday morning,” Goyal informed.

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann participated in the talks, which commenced at 8:15 pm on Sunday and concluded around 1 am on Monday.

Thousands of farmers from over 200 farm unions joined the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Punjab Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) in their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march.

They initiated the protest on February 13 to advocate for various demands, including a state-guaranteed minimum price for 23 crops, a loan waiver, social security benefits such as pensions, and a revamp of the crop insurance scheme.

The farmers are also pushing for higher duties on imported agricultural produce, as duty-free imports lead to lower farmgate prices.

This round of protests follows subdued farm earnings over the past year, marked by government-imposed export restrictions on wheat, rice, sugar, and onions, causing local prices to drop. Additionally, repeated climate shocks, such as heatwaves and uneven rains, have further impacted farm incomes.

On the fifth day of their march on Sunday, the farmers maintained their position at the Shambhu and Khanauri points of the Punjab-Haryana border.

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