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Assure MSP for all crops, form a board to ensure it: Farmers’ body to Mamata


Ashok Chatterjee

Kolkata (The Hawk): All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AISCC), an umbrella body of more than 250 farmers’ organizations, sent a draft law and a letter to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee this week with the plea to ensure minimum support price (MSP) for all crops and form an independent commission to ensure it in state.

The letter to the chief minister also warns if the law is not Implemented Immediately, farmers of the state will be compelled to take the path of agitation and struggle.

The AIKSCC members said that West Bengal is an agrarian state and agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Supporting their claim, they said that about 68% of the land in the state is used for agriculture and more than 60% of the people are engaged in it, amounting to 27% of the state’s GDP.

The letter says that like the rest of the country, farmers in the state are not able to earn enough despite good investment and good yields and their condition is constantly deteriorating with the input cost of agriculture constantly increasing.

The letter points out that due to this misery, farmers and agricultural workers of the state are in debt trap, moving away from agriculture and forced into beggary, leading to social, economic and administrative problems and suicides.

The farmer body cites the National Commission on Farmers (Swaminathan Commission) which recommended a policy of remunerative pricing, clearly stating that the minimum price of the agricultural produce should be fixed by adding at least 50% to the comprehensive cost of production.

The AIKSCC leadership further said that to alleviate the plight of farmers and fulfil the constitutional duty, all farmers should be given the legal right to guaranteed remunerative MSP by the government.

Avik Saha, national secretary of AIKSCC said, “To have assured MSP and if not given so then sufficient punishment for it, we have formulated a commission in the draft law, which is sent to Mamata Banerjee. The commission would be an independent one. The commission will have a non-government chairman, representation from farmers’ bodies, with ex-officio members. This will be a statutory commission, which will ensure MSP and punishment to those who disturb the system. Under the law, MSP for all crops will be given by the government, which will be legally bound to implement it.”

“We are not seeking any help from the state. She has said she supports the farmers’ demands and so farmers are demanding a law for MSP. We have given her the law and she just has to pass it.”

Anuradha Talwar of Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, reading the draft law said, “What the AIKSCC is telling Mamata Banerjee is to put her money where her mouth is. They are asking to do something concrete and not just indulge in political rhetoric. Somebody, who projects herself as a national leader, should act in her state by passing a law. The state has passed a resolution but now the farmers want a law passed for it. We have seen how agriculture is not a profitable option in Bengal and there is a huge crisis with the farmers migrating to other states to work as labourers.”  

Talwar adds, “West Bengal has nature’s bounty, it is possible for agriculture to flourish. There is potential and now we need support. MSP is one way of supporting. The state needs an efficient mechanism as the market is not a problem here.”