Workers plant paddy saplings. (PTI )
Workers plant paddy saplings. (PTI )

Amid subdued monsoon, cabinet offers higher MSP relief for farmers

  • The government also announced increases in the MSP of pulses, including tur, moong and urad by 125, 75 and 100, respectively
  • The increase in MSP is part of the Modi govt’s efforts to meet its promise to double farmers’ incomes

NEW DELHI : New Delhi: Buffeted by subdued monsoon rainfall and mounting agrarian distress, the government on Wednesday raised the minimum support price (MSP) for all kharif crops for the 2019-20 sowing season. The increase is also part of the Narendra Modi government’s efforts to meet its promise to double farmers’ incomes by assuring them commodity prices 1.5 times of the production cost.

“The monsoon has been delayed this year and it is worrisome for farmers as well as the government. But according to the weather department’s forecast, the situation would improve and the monsoon would be normal," said agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar after a cabinet meeting that cleared the proposal.

The system of a guaranteed MSP is crucial to farmers as it provides them price signals, encouraging them to sow crops. In the last three years, despite weak monsoon rains, crop production has been robust because of attractive support prices.

For 2019-20, the MSP for paddy, the main kharif crop sown during the four-month monsoon season, was raised by 65 a quintal (100 kg) to 1,815, while that of jowar was increased by 120 a quintal to 2,550 for hybrid. The MSP for ragi was raised by 253 a quintal to 3,150.

The government also announced an increase in the MSP for pulses, including tur, moong and urad by 125, 75 and 100 a quintal, respectively. The MSP for groundnut was raised by 200 a quintal and that for soyabean by 311 a quintal, said Tomar.

The MSP for medium-staple cotton was raised by 105 a quintal and that for long cotton by 100 a quintal.

Rainfall has been deficient in 26 of the 36 subdivisions in the monsoon season, with the country’s overall monsoon deficit at 28%. In Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh the deficit is more than 60%.

The country has so far received 138mm of rainfall against the normal of 191.6mm. Till Wednesday, the monsoon was yet to cover Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Also on Wednesday, the cabinet announced the leasing out of three airports—Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Mangaluru—currently run by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) through public-private partnerships. Adani Enterprises Ltd has emerged as the highest bidder for these three airports as well as for three others—Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati—for which bids were invited previously. The Kerala government subsequently moved the state high court against AAI handing over the operation and management of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to a private player, The Financial Express reported on 28 February.

Separately, the cabinet cleared three bills—on making India an arbitration hub, the wage code and surrogacy—said Prakash Javadekar, Union minister for environment, forests and climate change, without giving details.

The wage code bill will merge four laws related to wages—the Payment of Wages Act, the Minimum Wages Act, the Payment of Bonus Act and the Equal Remuneration Act—and simplify minimum wage fixing rules and definitions based on efficiency and geography. It will also reduce the number of minimum wage rates prevalent in India from about 2,000 to a handful.

Among other decisions, the cabinet approved a proposal for Grant of Organized Group A Service to Group A executive cadre officers of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). This will enable all eligible CAPF officers to get the benefits of Non-Functional Financial Upgradation and Non-Functional Selection Grade. The move will benefit 12,000 Group A executive cadre officers out of a total of 1 million personnel.

“It would result in better service delivery to the nation in maintaining internal security and would provide for all-round development and growth of the country," said a government statement.

Gireesh Chandra Prasad, Shaswati Das and Prashant K. Nanda contributed to this story.

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