Cabinet approves higher minimum support prices for Kharif crops

Economy


NEW DELHI: The Cabinet has approved higher support prices for kharif, or summer-sown crops, a new labour code that will allow minimum wages to be paid by cheque or bank transfers to workers of both organised and unorganised sectors, and leasing out of Lucknow, Ahmedabad and Mangaluru airports to Adani Enterprises.

The government said the increase in minimum support prices (MSP) for kharif crops, approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, is in line with giving farmers 1.5 times the cost of production. The highest percentage return to farmers over their cost of production is for bajra (85%) followed by urad (64%) and tur (60%).

The support price of common variety rises from Rs 1,750 a quintal to Rs 1,815 while higher quality ‘Grade A’ variety rises from Rs 1,770 to Rs 1,835 a quintal as reported by ET on Tuesday.

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Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said higher MSP would increase investment and production. “We are determined to double the income of farmers. The increased prices will help in improving financial condition of farmers,” he said.

The new prices evoked a mixed reaction from activists and farm leaders. Randheer Singh Shekhawat, president at Indian Farmers Union (IFU), said the increase in MSP will certainly help farmers. “Farmers are quitting farming due to low income. Rise in farm income can only happen by increasing MSP. We are happy that government has realised the importance of the farm sector,” he said.

But Sudhir Panwar, president of Kisan Jagriti Manch, said the increase was not enough. “The hike is minuscule. It’s not going to help the farmers. Moreover, due to deficient monsoon, the cost of input is going to be high this year. So, the increase will not meet the expenses,” he said.

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The national convenor of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee VM Singh said only 5% farmers were able to get the benefit of MSP, which makes it meaningless unless the government guarantees purchases.

The Cabinet also approved the labour code on wages, paving way for minimum wages to workers of both organised as well as unorganised sectors directly in their bank accounts or through cheque. The bill will be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal of the aviation ministry to lease out three airport projects—currently operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI)—to Adani Enterprises. “Cabinet approves proposal for leasing out of three airports viz. Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru of Airports Authority of India through public private partnership,” a government spokesperson announced through Twitter.

ET had reported first during the first week of June that the airport projects are likely to be approved by the Cabinet in July.

Transfer of all six assets to Adani Enterprises will start after this. Employees at the airports will have the option of joining Adani Enterprises or staying with the state-owned organisation.

These airports are part of the six airports, including Trivandrum, Guwahati and Jaipur, which were won by Adani Enterprises for a period of 50 years in a bid process that saw participation from GMR, NIIF, Cochin International Airport, AMP Capital, among others.

Sources in the know said the other airport projects will also be cleared by the Cabinet soon.



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