The Sanjay Agarwal-led panel on minimum support price (MSP) and crop diversification is likely to submit its report by November, sources said adding that it has not yet decided whether it would be an interim report or final since the task is much bigger.

Binod Anand, Secrertary-General of Confederation of NGOs for Rural India (CNRI) and a member of the panel, however, refused to comment when asked if the report would be submitted before December. Anand, who addressed the media on Thursday, appreciated the Cabinet’s decision to hike MSPs of kharif crops by 5-10 per cent and suggested utilising Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) for direct procurement of paddy and wheat from farmers.

Also read: Life after farm laws: The road ahead

Other tasks

Eight months after announcing the repeal of farm laws, the Centre in July last year had set up a 29-member committee, as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to look into how to make the MSP more effective and transparent. Besides, it has been tasked to suggest measures to promote zero-budget natural farming and for crop diversification to fulfil the changing needs of the country.

Though farmers have been demanding to enforce MSP through a law, making it compulsory for anyone not to buy below that benchmark rates for specific agriculture crops, the terms of reference mentioned the panel to suggest “to make available MSP to farmers of the country by making the system more effective and transparent.” There was no mention about the tenure of the panel by which it should submit the report.

However, sources said the panel will study on practicality to give more autonomy to Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and suggest measures to make it more scientific. It is likely to suggest reforms in agriculture marketing system to ensure higher value to farmers for their produce, sources said.

Promoting agri exports

The panel will also suggest programmes and schemes for value chain development and for area expansion under the natural farming system. Besides, mapping of existing cropping patterns of agro-ecological zones of producer and consumer States will be done separately so that a system is worked out to ensure remunerative prices for the sale of diversified crops.

Anand said the government has doubled the MSPs of many crops like jowar, bajra, ragi, niger seed from what were in 2013-14, whereas many other crops witnessed 70 per cent to 90 per cent hike in last nine years, which is significant.

He said that India needs a dynamic trade policy to promote agricultural exports. Issues related to agri-export infrastructure, agri-value chains, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and traceability, export procedures and documentation need to be addressed apart from giving special thrust on export of value-added processed products and organic produce.