Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission (APC), which was perceived as one of the noteworthy initiatives of the State government to protect farmers from market price fluctuation, is apparently going through a rough patch on account of increased government pressure to not take up the task of crop pricing. Ironically, that was precisely the task it was set up for.
Before the setting up of the APC, Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda consistently maintained that the APC would have powers to fix minimum support price (MSP) for crops. However, after its constitution, it seems that the body has not been allowed to give priority to pricing.
The APC meeting in Bengaluru on Monday was a continuation of conflict between members and government representatives. Sources alleged that the Minister had expressed the government’s inability to procure crops at a scientific MSP. He asked them to concentrate not on pricing, but on other tasks such as analysing local, national and global markets, recommending the crops to be cultivated for the year, and suggesting innovative cultivation methods to achieve greater yield at a lower cost.
He also reportedly told the APC that the State suffered a loss of Rs. 450 crore last year as it procured maize at an MSP of Rs. 1,300 a quintal and later sold it at Rs. 800 a quintal.
The APC has, so far, submitted two reports to the government after it came into existence in July last year. Both the reports have predominantly focussed on non-pricing recommendations. While the first report recommended measures to strengthen and expand ragi and white jowar cultivation, the second one suggested steps to encourage the cultivation of 11 major crops that could make farmers economically stable.