Addressing a press conference, Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal on Saturday stated that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre stands firmly in the interest of farmers.
Goyal reeled out statistics to underline that the procurement of farmers' produce at MSP has increased over the past year. He said that more procurement centres have been set up across the country compared to last year and the number of farmers who sold their paddy at MSP has also increased.
The minister's assertion comes in the backdrop of famers' agitation in several states, especially Punjab where the Legislative Assembly has formally rejected the amended farm bills.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies are prepared to procure 742 LMT of paddy, 18% higher than the 727 LMT that was procured last year, Goyal said. "This year the procurement alone is 500 LMT compared to 420 LMT last year, so there is an 18% increase in procurement of rice alone. In the kharif season, procurement centres have been increased by 30% from 30,709 to 39,122," he said.
He further added that in 2020-21, 1,57,00,000 farmers will benefit from government procurement as compared to 1,24,00,000 last year, a rise of 26% from last year.
He said that paddy procurement had been robust this year in all parts of the country. "The procurement process has been made more robust and demonstrates that the Modi government stands with the hardworking farmers of the country," he said.
Since 2014, when the first term of the NDA began, there has been a 40% increase in the MSP of paddy, Goyal said, adding, "Inflation has been at its lowest despite a 40% increase in MSP, nearly Rs 540 increase in the MSP of rice, which is a great sign for farmers."
"The procurement purchase centers in the 2013-14 Kharif season was 37,429. This year it is 64,515, which will facilitate farmers. Paddy procurement in 2013-2014 was 318 LMT while in 2019-2020, it is 510 LMT," the minister said.
Taking a jibe at the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab, Goyal said, "With this, a message will go across the country that the attempt to spread misinformation that is being made in Punjab has not resonated among farmers across the country. You see, it is limited to Punjab because the state government and some parties are indulging in politics and standing with middlemen. They are not thinking about the interests of the farmers.