STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
More than fifty-five per cent. of India’s population is principally dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The past two decades, since 1995, have recorded more than 3,00,000 cases of suicides by farmers. Indian Government data shows 12,602 farmers killed themselves in 2015 alone, mostly owing to economic distress. Indebtedness was responsible for 38.7 per cent. of suicides, while crop failures or the inability to sell produce lead to another 19.5 per cent. of suicides. More than forty-three per cent. of farmers who killed themselves in 2015 had small holdings.
Data reveals that very often, even the cost of production is not recovered by farmers in realized prices, whereas the farm family has living expenses in addition to investments in farming. At present, the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices, for determining the Minimum Support Price (MSP), considers (1) Demand and supply; (2) Cost of Production; (3) Price trends in the market, both domestic and international; (4) Inter crop price parity; (5) Terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture; (6) Likely implication of MSP on consumers of that product. Using these various parameters, MSP is often fixed even below the cost of production, ignoring the right to life and livelihood of the producer.
Meanwhile, the food prices for consumers, especially those who are poor, have been secured at affordable rates through at least two legislations in the country—the Food Security Act, 2013 and the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Therefore, there is every reason for price determination for farmers to take the sole mandate of securing adequate net returns to a farmer, over and above the comprehensive cost of production, rather than considering other parameters. In view of the above, to uphold the right to life and livelihood of farmers, which are their fundamental rights, it is proposed to constitute National and State Farmers Agricultural Costs and Remunerative Price Guarantee Commissions which shall be autonomous body corporates, which should, once appointed, not to be under the control of the Central or the State Government and the determination of the comprehensive cost of production of the agriculture produce plus at least fifty per cent. profit margin as a guaranteed remunerative minimum support prices of each and every agricultural commodity by the Commission shall be final.
To confer such a right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support prices for sale of all agricultural Commodities of all farmers, it is expedient to regulate the prices offered by traders, and to lay down rules for public authorities for accountable functioning. The Central Government takes decisions related to export and import of agricultural commodities keeping in view various factors. It is proposed that before taking such decisions, the Government should consult the Commission, and also take steps to ensure that the landing price of any imported commodity is not below the guaranteed remunerative minimumsupport prices fixed for that commodity within India at that point of time.
It is seen that to confer this legal right on all farmers to guaranteed remunerative minimum support prices, a redressal and compensation mechanism is necessary for farmers as well as traders. It is felt that the right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support prices which includes at least fifty per cent. profit margin over the comprehensive cost of production will boost the morale of the farmer, who would be able to live comfortably, invest in his agricultural enterprise thereby potentially increasing productivity and production to ensure national food security be able to avoid falling into a debt trap.
Hence this Bill.
Shri Raju Shetti, M.P.
Bill No. 115 of 2018
06 Apr, 2018
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