AIKS Demands Assured Remunerative Prices1
THE All India Kisan Sabha has submitted the Kharif Price Policy for 2018-19 to the chairperson, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Price (CACP), on February 16. It said that the CACP is meeting to formulate the Price Policy Report for Kharif Crops for 2018-19 season, in the context of an acute agrarian crisis and increase in distress and farmers’ suicides and in the context of massive united struggles of the peasantry demanding remunerative prices according to the National Commission of Farmers’ recommendation of fixing MSP according to C2+50 per cent.
Over 190 organisations had formed the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee and held a Kisan Sansad on November 20-21, 2017. The Kisan Sansad had passed a draft bill seeking legal guarantee for assured remunerative prices which should in no case be below C2+50 per cent. Unfortunately, the BJP government under the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has betrayed promises in this regard and the recent budget shifted goalposts and claimed that already crops were getting prices of more than 50 per cent above the cost of production. It has decided to dump the C2+50 per cent formula and resort to fixing MSP above A2+FL costs.
Also it is to be noted that the C2 calculations itself are disputed and farmers’ organisations have been calling for correct cost calculations. The weighted average cost of production taken into consideration by the CACP also disregards the state government cost calculations. Most importantly, over and above that the MSP announced for most crops is only notional as there is no procurement mechanism in most parts of the country. So without having a procurement mechanism in place there is no assurance of the announced MSP accruing to farmers. Nothing has been done in this direction.
Interestingly, the CACP has always claimed that they do not believe in a cost plus approach to determine MSP and have to consider different issues. The BJP government had also filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming that the NCF recommendations could not be implemented as it would distort the market. Now the government is claiming that it has already ensured cost plus 50 per cent. Clearly, the BJP government is resorting to an exercise in deceit to mislead the farmers.
The CACP which had come up with a comprehensive scheme should clarify as to what its opinion is on the arbitrary dumping of this scheme. It should also clarify as to whether it is still valid or it is being dumped. Why has it not recommended a single rupee hike for most Rabi crops of 2018-19 marketing year over 2017-18 prices, although farmers’ organisations have been demanding higher prices. The table below shows that all MSPs announced are way below the C2+50 per cent. It also shows the huge difference between A2+FL and C2 costs.
Costs of Kharif Crops and MSP Announced for 2017-18
All India Kisan Sabha rejects the A2+FL formula and demands the fixation of MSP at least 50 per cent above C2 costs after correct computation of costs. Rather C3 costs which include 10 per cent over C2 as managerial costs and MSP at least 50 per cent above it, must be considered if the interests of the peasantry have to be met. The opinion of state governments and farmers’ organisations should be considered while arriving at the scheme for cost calculation. AIKS feels that in the absence of an approach that gives due consideration to opinions of the state government and farmers’ representatives and in the event of looking only at A2+FL costs, such meetings called by the CACP are futile. It demands a comprehensive discussion on cost calculations, implementation of MSP and steps to ensure procurement at MSP. AIKS demands that the CACP make a beginning by proposing prices according to C2 costs under the comprehensive scheme for the Kharif, 2018-19. The MSP must be fixed at least 50 per cent above C2 costs as shown in the above table for this year and proper corrective measures may be made in the next season by considering C3 costs. The CACP should also follow the recommendations of the Kisan Sansad to make assured remunerative prices possible with expansion of procurement and payment of difference in prices to farmers if prices accruing to them are below the MSP announced. AIKS hopes that the CACP will act as an autonomous body and come up with pro-farmer recommendations rather than toe the line of the BJP government uncritically.