As paddy procurement at the purchase centres set up by the government is gaining momentum, farmers say that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fixed is not sufficient in view of the steep rise in the cost of cultivation. The farmers are hoping that the government will come to their rescue.
According to information, paddy production is about 73 lakh tonnes during kharif this season. The government has opened 1,219 purchase centres across the State and procured more than 1.5 lakh tonnes from 17,671 farmers till date. The target is to procure 50 lakh tonnes this season.
The farmers associations say that the floor price has never been supportive in the State. During the last four years, the MSP has been fixed by not taking the ground reality into consideration. It was 1,410 a quintal in 2015. But the costs of inputs and labour have increased substantially. A farmer will have to spend not less than 25,000 to 30,000 per acre. If the yield, tenancy and MSP are to be considered, the farmer will not get even 2,000 per month, they say.
A.P. Ryotu Sangham (CPI) State general Secretary K.V.V. Prasad says that the Central government has fixed the MSP at 1,815 per quintal, which is just 65 more compared to last year.
It is not enough to address the plight of the farmers. It will also not help in increasing the investment in agriculture and, thereby, production, he says.
Had the government followed the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, it would have increased the paddy MSP to at least 2,500 per quintal, he says.
CPI(M)-affiliated A.P. Rythu Sangham State president Y. Kesava Rao says that the State government can take a cue from the Kerala government, which had announced a price of 2,430 per quintal last year. Now, it has been increased to 2,620 per quintal. Paddy cultivation in Kerala may be less compared to Andhra Pradesh, but an effort has been made to help farmers. The State government can announce some support, say 1,000 per quintal, over and above the MSP, he says.
The State government will intervene if the purchase price is less than the MSP, say the officials.