Advani writes to PM on paddy growers’ problems


New Delhi : Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani has written to the prime minister airing the unhappiness of paddy growers over the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fixed for the crop, which is lower than for wheat, and urged for parity in the prices of both crops.

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In his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the BJP leader has also voiced the problems of sugarcane farmers of Andhra Pradesh.

In the letter released here Sunday, Advani has stated that there is growing unrest among paddy growers across the country, particularly in the southern states. “They are agitated over the new MSP fixed by the central government, which has no relation to the cost of cultivation. An added cause for their unrest is the widespread feeling that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is discriminating between paddy growers vis-à-vis wheat growers,” Advani has said.

He said that the government has reportedly recommended an MSP of Rs.1,000 per quintal for wheat in the coming season while paddy growers will get Rs.645 per quintal for the common variety and Rs.675 per quintal for the ‘A’ grade. This is only slightly higher compared to the MSP of Rs.620 and Rs.650 respectively in the previous season.

Advani claimed that many representatives of farmers’ organisations have approached him, saying that the MSP for paddy was way below the cost of cultivation which, according to them, was about Rs.950-Rs.1,000 per quintal. This is due to the steep hike in recent years in the cost of all the inputs – power, irrigation, transportation, fertilizers, pesticides and labour, Advani said.

Advani wrote to the prime minister, “I do appreciate the hike in the MSP for wheat. However, I feel that the concerns of paddy growers must be addressed by the government. I learn that several state governments have brought this issue to the notice of your government. I, therefore, urge you to take urgent steps to declare a hike in the MSP for paddy to Rs.1,000 for the current procurement season.”

The BJP leader has also demanded an immediate debt relief for all distressed farmers in Andhra Pradesh, especially sugarcane growers in Telangana, and generous rehabilitation measures for the families of farmers who have committed suicide.

He sought a time-bound completion of all irrigation schemes in Telangana to lessen the burden on farmers who are required to dig bore wells at enormous cost, often taking loans from private moneylenders at high interest rates.

Advani has called for provision of easy and timely credit to farmers through banks and setting up of a price stabilisation fund for farm produce.

He has underlined that modification in the guidelines of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme needs to be brought about so that the farmers do not suffer labour shortage at critical times of farming operations.