Inmathi Agriculture Editor M J Prabu says: “In the past 15 years, paddy MSP has been increased by only Rs 1.5 to Rs 3. As per Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, in the state, the cost of inputs for paddy such as seed, land tilling, fertilizer, pesticide and wages are Rs 1,540 per quintal. If you add the transportation cost to take the paddy to the society, then an increase of just Rs 2 per kg is quite a disappointment. There is little for a farmer to be happy about.”
In practice, at procurement centers the farmer is treated as if he is coming for a handout. Such bad treatment forces him to look for private agents who buy the paddy cheap, lower than MSP. “A farmer expects a fair market giving a fair price for his produce. But this announcement done with an eye on elections will not really help. It may make sense to allow privatization of the entire process and allow market forces,” he adds.
P A Raghupathi, a farmer from Cheyyur, says: “An increase of Rs 200 per quintal is like throwing small change at the farmer. Across Tamil Nadu and the entire nation farming is continuing merely out of considerations of tradition and honour. If we go to New Delhi and protest, the central governments don’t even take notice. Is there any other sector, where they can get away with a Rs 2 increase in support,” he asks.
J Thiruvengadam, a farmer in Madurantakam, said, “Getting Rs 200 more is better than getting nothing, I suppose. That’s the consolation we have to draw,” he says, adding, “We had asked for an increase of Rs 5 to Rs 10 per kg,” he said.
In Kancheepuram, for instance, if a farmer goes all out and gives it his best, he can get some 25 to 30 bags of rice, which is about 2,000 kg. At government procurement centres, he gets Rs 16 per kg, says farmer M K Gopinathan. “This doesn’t even cover costs. We had stocked our produce thinking we would get a good price but the small farmer has got practically nothing,” he adds.
Nearly everyone feels left out in the decision-making process. They ask why farmer representatives are not consulted or why they don’t participate in meetings that makes MSP decisions since they don’t seem to be connected to reality.