Days after the Centre passed three farm Bills in Parliament, enraging some farmer organisations, major grain producing states reacted to the changed scenario.
On Tuesday, Punjab lowered the market fee and rural development fee for basmati traders and millers from 2 per cent to 1 per cent to provide a level playing field in comparison to neighbouring Haryana.
“Chief Minister (Capt Amarinder Singh) announces reduction in market and rural development fee for Basmati. Move to provide level playing field for Punjab Basmati Traders and millers with other states in light of farm Bills,” the Punjab CM’s office tweeted. Punjab also allowed the premises of rice millers to be considered mandi yards along with host of other changes to the custom milling policy, which it said was meant to ensure seamless procurement of paddy that will start in the next few weeks.
Though basmati is not among the crops that are procured under the minimum support price (MSP) system, basmati exporters were reported to be on the warpath demanding lower taxes to remain competitive with their counterparts in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
However, basmati prices in some parts of the state were trading at Rs 500-600 per quintal less than last year’s price of Rs 2,400 a quintal.
Haryana, too, announced a reduction of market fees and rural development fee on cotton and barik dhan (a paddy variety) from 2 per cent to 0.5 per cent.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said it was also decided after a meeting with the association of commission agents that the state will clear labour dues to commission agents within 15 days of closure of procurement or else pay a 12 per cent annual interest on the dues.
Commission agents in the state have been on strike over the past few days, demanding a reduction in market fees. Farmers in Punjab and Haryana have been at the forefront of agitation against the three Acts that allow outside mandi transactions, provide a framework for contract farming, and amend the Essential Commodities Act by delisting some fruits and vegetables. On Monday, the Centre marginally hiked the MSP of wheat by 2.6 per cent, the lowest in 10 years.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that all the existing farmer-beneficiaries of Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi will get an additional cash transfer of Rs 4,000 in their bank accounts in two equal installments in a financial year. This, according to local reports, will be in addition to the Rs 6,000 per year installment under the PM-KISAN scheme.