In the rabi (winter) harvest of 2017-18, which is currently in the market, farmers have suffered an estimated loss of at least Rs.60,861 crore in six major crops. Add to this the loss of over Rs.2 lakh crore suffered in the kharif season, and you get a staggering figure of around Rs.2.6 lakh crore worth of losses.
This is happening because of the continued refusal of the Modi govt. to declare a minimum support price equivalent to total cost of production (C2) plus 50% additional. This was a recommendation of the M.S. Swaminathan headed National Farmers’ Commission and also an election promise made by Narendra Modi during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign.
How is the calculation done for finding out the loss? Let us take the example of wheat. According to the latest report of the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) on Price Policy for Rabi Crops, total cost of production (C2) for wheat is Rs.1256 per quintal (100 kg). So the promised price for the farmers should have been Rs.1884. But the Minimum Support Price (MSP) declared by the govt. is Rs.1735. That’s a difference of Rs.149 per quintal.
Total production of wheat in the country is estimated at 97.11 million tonnes in 2017-18 as per the second advance estimates released by the agriculture ministry. Not all the wheat produced comes into the market. Some is lost, and a portion is kept back for self-consumption by farmers. It is estimated that about 70% of the wheat is marketed surplus, that is, out of every 100 kg wheat grown and harvested, about 70 kg comes into market through mandis etc. Applying this rate to the total wheat production of the country, we get about 70 million tonnes of wheat in the market.
So, if a farmer is losing Rs.149 per quintal of wheat, all farmers put together will lose about Rs.10,000 crore for the 70 million tonnes they brought to the market this season. Similarly for other crops.
It should be noted that these are approximations and they yield conservative estimates of losses. One major factor that cannot yet be firmly defined is this: the actual price farmers get for produce. If past years are any indication, thousands of farmers across the country get prices that are below the MSP. The CACP report mentioned above in fact gives details of various market centres where average prices were below even the MSP. So the losses suffered by farmers are even more if compared to declared MSP+50%.
This loot of the farmers is the cause of a series of horrendous consequences like farmers’ suicides, increasing indebtedness, intractable poverty with all its own results, and so on. It is also the reason why farmers are out on the streets in over 13 states in the last couple of years, culminating in the historic Kisan Sansad in Delhi in November 2017 in which thousands of farmers participated.
The complete indifference of Modi Sarkar to the plight of farmers and the false promise of doubling their income by 2022 even while allowing this robbery to take place indicates that the Modi Sarkar is fast losing ground and support in rural India. With several major state elections this year and then the Lok Sabha elections next year, this betrayal of farmers – who make up two thirds of the country – may well cost the BJP dearly.