On a day protesting farmers in Delhi rejected the proposals of the Narendra Modi government on amendments for the three contentious farms laws, the Naveen Patnaik government adopted a cabinet resolution urging the Centre to implement all the recommendations of MS Swaminathan Commission on MSP for all crops.
“Farmers are the soul of our economy and the fundamental strength behind our socio-economic dynamics. The nation and society thrive with the prosperity of farmers. The state government considers MSP an essential tool for providing income security to farmers. National Agriculture Commission chaired by eminent agriculture scientist Dr. MS Swaminathan had recommended an MSP 50 per cent higher than the average cost of agricultural production. We all should take care that no farmer is deprived of the appropriate price for his produce. It’s his right,” the government said in a statement Wednesday evening.
The state cabinet in its resolution said when almost all the sectors are facing a slowdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, the farm sector like an oasis in the desert, has helped the economy to survive. It noted that in last 16 years, the agricultural GDP has doubled in Odisha with agricultural growth rate reaching 4.5, higher than national average of 3.1.
“Farmers’ income must grow proportionate to the growth of income in other sectors. In agriculture sector, the income enhancement must be considered keeping the cost of production in view. To make farming profitable and protect the farmers from all types of volatility, the MSP must be fixed on realistic basis. The state government reiterates the need for implementation of all the recommendations of Swaminathan commission regarding MSP fully across all crops,” said the state cabinet resolution.
The State Assembly had unanimously adopted resolution twice, in 2017 and 2018, for enhancing MSP as per Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations.
The Congress said the resolution was perfunctory as the Naveen Patnaik government just wanted to guard its image.
“Had they been serious, then BJD MPs would have opposed the farm Bills in Parliament. But they just walked out. In all these years, the state government has not added an extra Rupee to the MSP announced by the centre,” Odisha’s Congress unit chief Niranjan Patnaik said.
Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal which rode back to power in 2019 assembly polls on the back of KALIA, a cash transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers of the state, has already shelved two of its farm laws that would have triggered reforms in the agriculture sector. Having opposed the twin farm laws of Centre in September on opening of agricultural sale and marketing outside the APMC mandis for farmers, as well as allowing contract farming, the Naveen Patnaik government has quietly buried the Odisha Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, and Odisha Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020.
The two ordinances promulgated in May this year aimed at registration farmers with contract farming companies for improving production and productivity and amendment of Odisha Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1957, for geographically restriction-free trade and transaction of agricultural produce including livestock across the state and country.
While the ordinance on contract farming was not re-promulgated in November this year, the second ordinance was brought in as a Bill in the winter session of the Assembly which concluded early this month. However, it could not be passed. The government meanwhile has re-promulgated the Odisha Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020 keeping it alive for the next six months.