An MSP hike for sugarcane: Calculated sweetening

Late on Wednesday, the government hiked the centrally set price to be paid to sugarcane farmers for their produce to  ₹340 per quintal in 2024-25 from  ₹315 in the prior year.
Late on Wednesday, the government hiked the centrally set price to be paid to sugarcane farmers for their produce to 340 per quintal in 2024-25 from 315 in the prior year.

Summary

  • The government has hiked the centrally set price to be paid to sugarcane farmers for their produce. Damage control? Our farm sector needs a hearty debate.

Late on Wednesday, the government hiked the centrally set price to be paid to sugarcane farmers for their produce to 340 per quintal in 2024-25 from 315 in the prior year. With farmers in confrontation with New Delhi, discomfited by discontent on display, this move would have to be interpreted in the context of national elections just ahead.

 But why raise the procurement price of sugarcane when protesting farmers, who are largely from Punjab, mostly grow wheat or rice? It seems like a case of damage control for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. It may not have much at stake politically in Punjab (in any case, it isn’t a big player there), but by showing its commitment to other crops, it can at least keep farmers elsewhere on its side. Sugarcane is grown mostly in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka, all states with a high number of parliamentary seats. 

Meanwhile, the protestors have suspended their march briefly after a farmer was allegedly killed in police clashes and others, including policemen, were injured. It’s tragic the way events are unfolding, but more bad news may follow if a resolution of the farming imbroglio isn’t reached. Our farm sector needs a full debate.

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