West Bengal's animal resources development department to rear chickens for sale in the market 

Centre, states to discuss how to ensure MSP for farmers

The Centre will consult state governments early next month to set up a mechanism for protecting farmers' income when market prices fall below the minimum support price (MSP), Agriculture Secretary S K Pattanayak said today. 

A model law is also being prepared to ensure tenant cultivators get institutional credit and interest subsidy, he added. "We will call a meeting of state governments early next month to discuss a mechanism so that farmers get MSP," " Pattanayak told PTI on the sidelines of a conference on food security organised by the Vivekanand International Foundation. Stating that the Centre is open to all suggestions from stakeholders, he said the ministry is studying the model adopted by Madhya Pradesh and Telangana governments. While Madhya Pradesh is paying farmers the difference between the MSP and the market price, Telangana government will offer fixed amount to farmers per acre of land  In his Budget 2018 speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced that Niti Aayog in consultation with central and state governments will put in place a fool-proof mechanism to ensure farmers get benefit of MSP. 

Asked whether doubling farmers' income is a political target or a realistic target, Pattanayak said, "This is a challenge we are attempting. ...The government has shifted the policy focus from production to income-centric." 

Farmers' income could be enhanced more than two times if water is made available in 55 per cent of unirrigated farm lands, he said, and added, "It is easier for us to double income of poor farmers." 

In irrigated farm lands, the Secretary said farmers should grow high-value crops in order to generate better rains. For instance, farmers in Haryana have started growing mushrooms and flowers. Pattanayak highlighted various schemes launched by the government to boost farmers' income such as soil health card, farm insurance, linking mandies through electronic platform and irrigation. On concerns over climate change, Pattanayak said India is not "poorly" placed as reflected in the Economic Survey for 2017-18. The government has already introduced climate resilient seeds and technologies. The country should focus on growing climate smart crops like pulses and millets as it will take time to ensure irrigation to entire cultivable farm land, he added. 

To promote production of millets, the official said demand needs to be created and the best way is to supply through Midday Meal Scheme and PDS.

By BOA Bureau