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Opinion | Will 2019 bring good luck for Indian farmers?

If the new government elected in 2019 talks less and acts more, Indian farmers will benefit

December 20, 2018 / 03:14 PM IST
Agriculture

Agriculture

Siraj Hussain

In the Chinese calendar, 2019 is the year of pig. Pigs are considered realistic— they act more and talk less. The Chinese consider them as a symbol of wealth. If the new government elected in 2019 talks less and acts more, Indian farmers will also benefit.

Farmers’ bad luck continued in 2018. Farmers in India’s most prosperous states of Punjab and Haryana are considered least prone to risk as they cultivate wheat and paddy, which are procured by the government at a minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government. In Kharif 2018, the MSP of Grade-A paddy was increased by Rs 180 per quintal, or 11.3%. These two states alone bought 226 lakh tonnes of paddy at MSP this year. So paddy farmers realised Rs 7,322 crore more than the previous year. It is a different matter that commission agents also earned an extra Rs 183 crore without providing any additional facility in mandis.

Hoever, farmers growing other crops were not so lucky. Despite promises of the government, the MSP remained a distant dream for most, except those who grew sugarcane and cotton. Even milk prices collapsed. Due to fear of violence, many farmers found it difficult to realise a good price from their old and out of milk animals. With stagnant wages and limited employment in off-farm activities, farmers’ income would have taken a serious hit in 2018.