Andhra Pradesh is set to enact a law to ensure Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers which simultaneously envisages heavy penalty including a jail term for defaulters.
The relevant bill is expected to be introduced in the next session of the State Assembly. “We wanted to bring the legislation in the just-concluded assembly session, but could not do it as we want to ensure due diligence is done,” Kakani Govardhana Reddy, State’s Minister for Agriculture & Cooperation, Marketing & Food Processing told businessline.
It is important that all stakeholders — millers, traders and others — are in sync with the proposals, he said, adding, “A judicial review committee is looking into it.”
Before Andhra Pradesh, States such as Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan have made legislative arrangements for ensuring MSP but in a very limited manner. There has been a strong demand from the farming community for a legal guarantee.
Currently, the Union Government declares MSP for 22 crops and FRP (Fair and Remunerative Price) for one crop based on recommendations by the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP). These crops include seven cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, barley and ragi), five pulses (gram, tur, moong, urad, lentil), seven oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed-mustard, soyabean, sesamum, sunflower, safflower, nigerseed), and four commercial crops (copra, sugarcane, cotton and raw jute). However, agriculture is a State subject and the States have the power to give MSP over and above what has been declared by the Centre. The States can also make laws for agriculture-related issues.
The copy of the draft bill ‘The Andhra Pradesh Farmer’s Produce Support Price Act, 2023’ as seen by businessline proposes to safeguard the interests of the farmers by ensuring them the MSP for the produce obtained from agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, etc. It provides a comprehensive legislation for enforcement of MSP in the State.
The draft bill defines MSP as a price notified by the Government under this Act regarding the farmers’ produce, which shall not be lower than the price , if any, notified by the Union Government for the same produce. The draft bill proposes that MSP notified under this Act shall be enforceable on every transaction in the State with regard to such farmers’ produce, whether such transactions occur in markets, co-operative societies and any other collective activities/transactions.
Setting up RBKs
To ensure proper last-mile connectivity, the draft bill also proposes setting up Rythu Bharosa Kendrams (RBKs) which will act as facilitation centres for ensuring the MSP. The RBKs shall link the farmer to the purchaser and also issue transportation slips to farmers and buyers for the authorised transporter. On being satisfied that the transaction price is not lower than the MSP, RBKs will furnish an acknowledgment.
The draft bill also prescribes that any person who enters into a transaction below the MSP will be liable for a fine of ₹50,000 for a first-time violation. In case of second and subsequent violations, the same will be liable for imprisonment up to six months or a fine of ₹1 lakh or both. Non-production of documents before the controlling officer could lead to a penalty between ₹10,000-50,000 and a three-month jail term.