Purchase Maize under MSP, pay differential to farmers: NAPM to Bihar CM

The Bihar government’s refusal to purchase maize, a staple crop in north Bihar, Kosi and Seemanchal has caused acute distress, made a mockery of the Prime Minister’s Annadata Aay Suraksha Abhiyan (PM-AASA) and led to sustained protests


Despite protests and a four day long satyagraha by Kosi Nav Nirman Manch (KNNM) and other groups over the refusal of the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar to pay the minimum support price (MSP) for maize, Nitish Kumar has so far turned a blind eye.

Now, a wide platform of people’s movement, NAPM has written to the chief minister of Bihar, in solidarity with the demands of thousands of farmers in North Bihar and the Satyagraha of Kosi Nav Nirman Manch. The communication states that despite repeated communications in this regard by farmers and other organisations, the sale of the crop has not yet begun and the farmers have been left with no choice but to continue and intensify the struggle.

Hence NAPM has demanded the immediate purchase of the staple, maize Crop by the state government at the minimum support price (MSP) and disbursement of proceeds to farmers as well as payment of ‘loss differential’ between market price and MSP for previous season maize sale, as per PM-AASA.

Maize farming is the lifeline for farmers in many districts of North Bihar including Kosi and Seemanchal. But sadly, the government is not purchasing maize at the minimum support price (MSP), despite the fact that the Prime Minister’s Annadata Aay Suraksha Abhiyan (PM-AASA) promises purchase of all coarse grains including wheat, paddy and cotton. The Covid-19 induced lockdown has resulted in the fall of maize-based industries and additional imports of maize have also led to a low market price for maize.

According to the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP), the minimum cost to produce 1 quintal of maize is Rs. 1,213/-. However, in reality, the cost of production of 1 quintal maize is much more than the present market price. In the last financial year, the market price per quintal for maize was between Rs 2,000 /- to Rs. 2,400/-, while this year, the price per quintal has dropped by nearly half to a mere Rs 900/- to 1,100/-.

This year, farmers’ distress has doubled; firstly, the Covid induced lockdown hit even before the crop was ready. Secondly, the lack of storage facilities forced farmers to sell their crop at nearly quarter of the price, especially since the monsoon increases the threat of grains rotting. Due to the lockdown, many relatives who used to contribute to the household by migrating for work have returned. These contributing members have not only stopped earning, but are now also dependent on the farmer for support. Investing in maize is not cheap or easy and the maize farmer often has to take several loans from individuals and financial institutions.

In such a situation, it is the sole responsibility of both the state government and central government to purchase maize at MSP and pay the farmers immediately. The central and state governments should jointly pay not only the minimum support price, but also the difference of market price to the farmers who have sold maize at abysmally low rates. 

If the Central Government is calling for an ‘Atma-Nirbhar’ (self-sufficient) India, then it should ban the import of maize and save the farmers of the country from this deepening crisis. If the state intends to increase employment to the returning migrant workers and speed up industrialization, then it is crucial that the State buy, store, and increase the industries based on maize.

Many farmers’ organisations and other organisations have repeatedly written to you in this regard. In fact, Kosi Nav Nirman Manch (KNNM) even organised a four-day Satyagraha after which the local administration reportedly assured that they would forward the demands of farmers to you. However, the sale hasn’t yet begun and the farmers have been left with no choice but to continue and intensify the struggle.

The Open Letter urges “that the purchase of maize at MSP be initiated at the earliest and that the proceeds from the sale reach the producer immediately. “ The letter also states that, “ We also urge your Govt to immediately pay farmers the difference in amount between the MSP and the very low market rates at which they sold their maize crop in the last season, as per PM-AASA.”

Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan; Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad & Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, Manorama, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti; Lingaraj Pradhan Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL are among the signatoires.




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