This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Senjuti Chakrabarti. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

My Conversation With 3 Farmers On Their Trust Issue With MSP Was Revealing And How!

More from Senjuti Chakrabarti

It would perhaps not be incorrect to say that the overview of the recently passed farm bills is to say that the farmers, rotting in the clutches of the APMCs, will now finally be liberated by the corporates. Seemingly, the farmers in this country will now have wings to fly, out in an open market, exercising choices.

But what have farmers all over the country been demanding for years? A price stability. And what do these acts offer to them instead? A fluctuating volatility. It intends to say that the free market is liberation and that State support is enslavement.

Representational image.

Balwant Singh, a farmer from Punjab owning around 2 acres of land, protesting at the Tikri border since the past few weeks, chose to explain to me the issue with MSP in these bills. “MSP is the minimum selling price, that the government guarantees for a kisaan that he should compulsorily get for his crops. Why is there no mention of MSP in the acts? The government has brought a law that totally wishes to exclude it”.

Now this MSP is not on all crops. Currently, it is announced on 23 crops. But he says, “Practically wheat and rice are the only two crops that surely get it”. Around 6% of farmers in the country get to actually avail and benefit from it as per the Shanta Commission Report. That is due to several discrepancies in the system. He further explains by giving an example that, “When you go to a shop and buy a product, you have to buy it at the rate of MRP. But farmers, especially the small ones, have no idea of the rates their crops should get. Why should there be no fixed price for our crops below which rates cannot drop?”

Post-independence, there existed a monopoly of the sahukars and the traders who would corner farm produce as it hit the market and hoard them up in bulk only to sell them later at a higher price. It is under these circumstances that the APMC Act had come about. Now again, the recent acts take you back in history, leaving ways for the traders to dictate the market which they could not due to MSP, laws against stockpiling and government procurement.

Let  Us Understand The Price Assurance In Another Way

If I grow potatoes in my land, for instance, it would depend on various natural factors since agriculture is an occupation that is totally at the hands of nature. That year, if the crop grows well, it would grow well for all the farmers around. So then there is a surplus in the market and the price drops. Nobody makes money. Similarly, if those potatoes are grown in drought season, no one grows good crops and hence no one makes money either.

Thus arises the concept of stability in price as a safeguard. With the passage of times though, the APMCs have become extremely flawed.

For example, there have been ways of undermining the MSP, as Ravi, a 35 years old farmer from Punjab owning 2 acres of land joined in the conversation and added that “Government does not always procure enough. Sometimes it would start the process a few days later or would close them earlier. And crops are perishable goods, the farmer has to sell outside then because they have to survive”.

But even with the flaws, which are extremely important to be fixed, it still provides hundreds of farmers with a good price. With the new farm bills, this assurance ceases to exist completely, leaving chaos.

Think of government schools versus the private ones. The former, with all its deteriorations, is still the only way of education for thousands of students. Is a logical solution going to be to do away with it or fixing it?

farmer protest india 2020
Image credit: Navneet Singh/Instagram

Why This Trust Issue With MSP?

The Farm Bills technically have nothing to do with MSP since there is no existing legislative framework for the same. Then why is the question of MSP being brought up so much with respect to these legislations? It is because the farmers worry that the changes being brought through these Farm Bills will facilitate the end of the government mandis, making it easy for corporates to exploit the system.

Kuljeet Singh Bambiha, a middle-aged farmer owning 5 acres of land, very excitedly offers to explain the whole situation. He says, “When these private mandis will come into the picture, for the first few years they will give us great prices for crops. After which they will have monopolised the market, and start exploiting us. There’s no tax on them either. And with no guarantee of a support price, we will be at their mercy.” And it is true indeed like we have seen in multiple sectors (example- health, education) that the private sector is not some saint who is going to come as a messiah to our farmers instead of making profits.

The government has given written assurances to the farmers that MSP would still be there.

To understand completely the reasons for fearing the abolishing of MSP, we need to understand where the government stands with regard to this for the last five years. In 2014, before being elected, the Hon’ble Prime Minister said that he will implement the main point of the Swaminathan Commission within the first 12 months (that is, cost of production + 50%). In 2015, however, the BJP filed an affidavit in the Hon’ble Supreme Court explaining how it is not possible to implement the MSP and that it would distort market prices.

In 2017, the Hon’ble Agricultural Minister, Radha Mohan Singh said that they will follow the Madhya Pradesh model rather than sticking to MSP. In 2018, Mr Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech on Finance Bill mentioned that the BJP had already implemented the Swaminathan Commission recommendation on MSP in the rabi crops and will next follow it in Kharif crops. In 2020, Hon’ble Agricultural Minister, Narendra Singh Tomar said that the BJP is the only party that respected the Swaminathan Commission.

What Is The Swaminathan Commission And How Much Is It REALLY Followed?

The Swaminathan Commission was tasked with finding solutions to the problems faced by farmers. The Swaminathan Commission identified certain causes for farm distress like unfinished agenda in land reform, quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue access and adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit. One of the recommendations was to give farmers a minimum support price at 50% profit above the cost of production classified as C2 by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

The CACP defines production costs of crops under three categories where C2 is the most comprehensive definition of the production cost of crops as it also accounts for the rentals or interest loans, owned land and fixed capital assets over and above A2+FL. In reality, to fix the MSP, 50% is added to the value of only A2 plus FL. And thus, there is a large difference between the MSP sought by the farmers and the MSP given by the government. Hence, the complete lack of trust with just mere assurances by the government which are being construed as a repetition of false promises.

Therefore, when Ravi is asked about his demand to the government, he along with the farmers around agree with each other and say, “We want the Swaminathan Committee to be followed in toto and make it a legal right. Today, we still have been benefitting from the system but what about our other kisaan brothers who aren’t?”

It is as if when the government could not implement MSP rightfully in years and also failed at converting it into a legal right or perhaps did not intend to, it framed a legal system that would consequentially do away with it entirely.

Featured image source: Swara Bhaskar/Twitter

The piece was first published here.

You must be to comment.

More from Senjuti Chakrabarti

Similar Posts

By Jaisika Kushwaha

By vaasuki vaasuki

By Swonshutaa

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below