MSP promise unmet: Punjab undermines moong diversification

by Abbas Adil

THE Punjab Government’s failure to procure moong dal this year has left farmers in the lurch, compelling them to sell their produce to private players at rates below the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 8,555 per quintal. This disheartening pattern has been generally evident since 2022, when CM Bhagwant Mann promised MSP-backed government procurement of the green pulse. His announcement had led to a record 77 per cent jump in sowing acreage that year.

It was touted as a significant step in conserving groundwater and improving soil health through crop diversification. The legume crop is also believed to benefit the soil by fixing its nitrogen level, which is conducive to better paddy yield.

However, the scheme has not materialised, leaving private players to dominate the market and putting financial strain on farmers. Moong is crucial for Punjab as the state produces only 15 per cent of the pulses it consumes. Its promotion through procurement under MSP and Price Support Scheme would also help the Central Government meet its target of making the country self-sufficient in pulses by 2027. But without government intervention, the cultivators are unlikely to overcome the challenges.

The situation calls for a more reliable procurement scheme to protect farmers’ interests and ensure the success of crop diversification initiatives in Punjab. Establishing more purchase centres and accredited warehouses could reduce distress sales by peasants. Introducing a deficiency price payment system could bridge the gap between the market price and MSP. Notably, in July 2022, Mann had announced that the state would bear the gap of up to Rs 1,000 per quintal for the moong crop sold below MSP. Promoting FPOs (farmer producer organisations) could improve farmers’ bargaining power and market access. Targeted interventions are necessary to give the citizens the much-needed nutritious food security.

Source: Tribune India

Note: Shafaqna do not endorse the views expressed in the article

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