Government sets up MSP panel, but is mum on legal guarantee

NEW DELHI: Eight months after promising to constitute a panel to look into the demands of farmer organisations, the Centre has finally formed a committee, headed by former agriculture secretary Sanjay Agrawal, to suggest measures to make minimum support price (MSP) available to farmers across the country, promote natural farming, and prepare a comprehensive strategy for crop diversification.
Though the agriculture ministry that notified the panel remained silent on farmer unions’ key demand of granting “legal guarantee” to MSP, it spoke, in the subject matter for the committee, about making the system more “effective and transparent” and strengthening the “agricultural marketing system”. It, in a way, will discuss and suggest how to bring reforms in the sector, which was one of the key objectives of the repealed farm laws.
The notification on the 29-member panel, published on Monday, has, however, not stated any time frame for submission of the report.
As promised to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) that spearheaded the protests against the farm laws, the ministry kept the posts of three members vacant in the panel to accommodate SKM’s representatives once it received the names. The Morcha has, so far, not sent names of its representatives to the ministry.
“SKM will take its call, but I find nothing promising in this committee,” tweeted Yogendra Yadav, one of the key leaders of the Morcha. Other members of the Morcha too do not appear to be keen on joining the panel which, they said, completely ignored the key subject to discuss giving legal guarantees to MSP.
Under farm outfits’ category, the ministry, meanwhile, included five representatives from other farmer organisations that had supported the farm laws and demanded reforms.
Besides farmer representatives, the panel includes Niti Aayog member Ramesh Chand; agriculture economists CSC Shekhar from Indian Institute of Economic Development and Sukhpal Singh from IIM, Ahmedabad; representatives of cooperatives including Iffco; senior member, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) Naveen P Singh; senior officials of four state governments including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha, and secretaries of five central government departments including agriculture, cooperation, food & public distribution and textiles.
The subject matter of the committee on MSP also speaks about giving more autonomy to the CACP and taking measures to make it more scientific. The CACP is the body which recommends MSP to the government by taking into account the cost of inputs and other relevant factors.

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