The Government has approved a modest increase in the minimum support price (MSP) for key winter crops, such as wheat and rapeseed mustard.

On Thursday, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved an increase of Rs 50 in the support price for wheat at Rs 1,400 a quintal over last year’s Rs 1,350. A similar hike was approved for rapeseed mustard at Rs 3,050 a quintal, sources said.

The support price for chana or gram has been increased by Rs 100 at Rs 3,100 a quintal. For masur or lentil, the support price has been hiked by Rs 50 to Rs 2,950 a quintal and safflower by Rs 200 at Rs 3,000 a quintal.

“All the recommendations made by the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices have been accepted by the Cabinet,” a senior official said. In fact, the Agriculture Ministry had suggested a higher MSP of Rs 1,450 per quintal for wheat.

The modest hike in rabi MSP is keeping in view of the prevailing high food inflation that touched 18.4 per cent in September. A timely announcement of MSP will help the farmers to decide on rabi crop sowings that is set to start soon with the planting of rapeseed mustard – the main oilseed crop.

A relatively higher MSP on oilseeds, such as safflower, encourages farmers to grow more of these crops so that the country’s import dependence on pulses and oilseeds is reduced. The planting of wheat would start sometime in November, after Diwali, after farmers clear rice and sugarcane from their fields, and is harvested in April-May.

The harvest of rice has already commenced in Punjab and Haryana, where an estimated 2.5 million tonnes of paddy has been procured by the State and Central agencies.

vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 17, 2013)
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