Addressing the issue of agricultural distress widespread in the state, the government of Maharashtra is planning to supply free seeds and pesticides free of cost to small and marginal farmers to keep cost effective farming alive in the state.
Chandrakant Patil, Revenue Minister and a-second term member of Maharashtra legislative assembly, talked about this today to news agency PTI.
"The idea is to keep the production cost or input cost minimal so that farmers will not feel the heat when the market rates are down," he said.
Mr Patil, himself son of a dockyard worker in Mumbai, expressed concern over a large number of farmers currently living under debt.
The minister suggested the state government would also include farm labourers into the fold of National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MNERGA) in the next couple of months.
"This will bring down almost all costs of farmers required for foodgrains and vegetable cultivation. The state has observed that the sudden rise in supply leads to commodity prices crashing and farmers are incurring losses," Mr Patil quoted as saying.
"If we keep the input cost at almost zero, despite the price crash, the farmers will not suffer heavily. Their losses will be limited," he said.
Also taking into the account farmers getting get certain minimum amount for their production, Mr Patil said that the government is considering coming up with Minimum Support Prize (MSP) for foodgrains. As has been pointed out in several reports by the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) or more commonly known as Swaminathan committee, constituted by then UPA government in November 2004.
"During the demand period, farmers can sell their produce as per the market rates, which are generally higher than the MSP. In such a situation, they will not only earn more, but can even book profit and repay loan," he added.
Meanwhile, he said, in the 'lean period' the MSP will come as a relief and farmers will earn certain amount. He added that their losses will either be minimal or they will earn something to repay the loan amount.
Mr Patil informed that although only small and marginal farmers are included in the current plan, the number of such farmers account for 70 per cent of the total 1.30 crore farmers in the state.
(with inputs from PTI)