Farm talks: Govt offers plan to procure 3 crops; farmers march to Delhi on hold | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Farm talks: Govt offers plan to procure 3 crops; farmers march to Delhi on hold

Feb 19, 2024 01:25 PM IST

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have mobilized in thousands, demanding higher prices for their crops

The Union government on Sunday proposed a plan to procure pulses, maize and cotton from farmers at minimum support prices (MSP), Union minister for food, commerce and consumer affairs Piyush Goyal said shortly after concluding the fourth round of negotiations with protesting farm unions that stretched beyond midnight.

Farmers want guarantees backed by law for federally-set minimum support prices (MSPs) for 22 crops. (PTI photo)
Farmers want guarantees backed by law for federally-set minimum support prices (MSPs) for 22 crops. (PTI photo)

Farmers from Punjab and Haryana have mobilized in thousands, demanding higher prices for their crops, led by two influential groups: the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha and Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political).

They want guarantees backed by law for federally-set minimum support prices (MSPs) for 22 crops.

MSP is a floor price aimed at helping avoid distress farm sales.

“With new ideas and thoughts, we had a positive discussion with Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Union and other farmer leaders... We had a detailed discussion on how to carry forward the work done by PM Modi in the last 10 years,” Goyal said, briefing reporters.

Also Read: Restive farmers, responsive State

The minister said during the discussions, the government proposed an “innovative, out-of-the-box” plan, under which government cooperative agencies, such as NAFED and NCCF, will procure corn, cotton and pulses at MSP under a five-year contract from those farmers who switch from environmentally unsustainable crops such as rice in Punjab and Haryana.

Reacting to the government’s proposal, farm leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said farm unions would now discuss the government’s proposal and consult legal and agricultural experts.

“We will analyse the government’s proposal along with legal and agricultural experts. Only then can we take a decision on what to do,” Pandher said.

“As far as our decision to march to Delhi is concerned, it is on standby. We will begin marching forward on February 21. We will try to convey our points of view to the government.”

The protesting farmers have been camping at the Shambhu border near Ambala since the start of their protest march on February 13.

The massive protests by influential farm leaders from Punjab and Haryana come just months ahead of a nationwide general election.

The farm union leaders will converge on Rajpura in Patiala district of Punjab to discuss the government’s offer and announce their decision on it.

In the talks, the government was represented by Goyal, agriculture minister Arjun Munda and minister of state for home Nityananda Rai.

The farmers consisted of a 14-member team, including Kisan Mazdoor Morcha convener Sarvan Singh Pandher and Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal.

Goyal said farmers had raised the issue of crop diversification, saying that lack of profitable prices had prevented farmers from switching to more sustainable alternative crops.

“The government-promoted cooperative societies like NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India) and NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India) will form a contract for the next five years and buy products from the farmers on MSP. There will be no limit on the quantity,” he added.

Goyal also said the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) will enter a five-year legal agreement with farmers to purchase the crop at MSP.

The farm unions and the panel of ministers had met earlier on February 8, 12 and 15 but the talks ended in a stalemate.

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