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Farmers await announcement of wheat MSP

New Delhi,Business/Economy, Fri, 16 Nov 2012 IANS

New Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) With the government yet to announce its minimum support price for wheat, farmers in wheat?growing states, especially Punjab and Haryana, have not yet begun sowing the crop though the conditions are ideal now, said a farmers' representative.

The central government deferred the announcement on the MSP for wheat for 2013, while it has announced the MSP for other Rabi crops.

The moisture content in the soil this year due to late monsoon rains and early onset of winter is ideal for wheat sowing, coupled with forecast of favourable international trade and spot price in the domestic market, said Sudhir Panwar of Kisan Jagriti Manch.

"Wheat production could exceed 93.90 million tonnes in 2012. Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has also advised farmers for early wheat sowing so that the deficit of kharif may be compensated in Rabi crop," Panwar said.

Though the sowing season has already started, due to uncertainty over the MSP farmers are dithering.

"There are reports that Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) has recommended the freezing of wheat MSP on the plea of surplus stocks and supported by the finance and food minister on the logic of inflated subsidy bill," said Panwar.

However, the central government is not convinced about this recommendation and has asked the CACP to reconsider the matter.

It can be a major issue during the winter session of parliament, especially from the political parties from northern states including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh.

Leaders of Punjab and Haryana have demanded the government raise the MSP of wheat to compensate for the sharp increase in input costs of fertiliser and diesel.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal earlier this month had accused the centre of discouraging farmers in the state to grow wheat, which, he said could create a global crisis.

"I am shocked. If, by chance, production of wheat goes down because Punjab farmers are discouraged from producing wheat, there will be crisis of wheat in the world. Punjab meets 60 per cent of the total wheat requirement of the country," Badal told reporters on the sidelines of a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) conference on investment in North India.

Punjab, along with Haryana, produces more than 80 per cent of the total wheat grown in the country. Both the states are also major contributors of the grain to the central pool.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said he has written to the Union agriculture ministry to raise the MSP of wheat because of the rising cost of fertiliser.

Sudhir Panwar said: "The government should immediately announce wheat MSP at Rs.1,500 a quintal as the input price of diesel, fertilizer and human labour has increased almost 20 percent since last year and the market is also supportive as the current price is between Rs.1,500?1,650 a quintal."

The Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP), the government's nodal agency for determining the prices of farm products, had for the first time in almost 10 years recommended freezing the MSP of wheat in 2013?14 at Rs.1,285 per quintal.

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