Can’t bring MSP in hurry; farmers should come forward for talks with govt: Agriculture minister

During the course of the discussion with protesting farmers, the minister said farmers were requested to either be part of the Sanjay Aggarwal-chaired committee that is already looking at strengthening the MSP system, or be part of a new committee.”… we said we would form a committee and asked them to be a part of it. For that also, they were not ready,” he said, adding that the whole issue should not be seen in isolation. The government is ready for a holistic, time-bound discussion with clear terms of reference “but they were not ready for this also,” the minister said.The Sanjay Aggarwal-headed panel on MSP was established in July 2022, eight months after the government promised to set up such a panel while withdrawing the three contentious agri-laws. To date, it has held 37 meetings and workshops.Stating that the Centre is open for dialogue anytime to resolve the concerns of farmers, Munda said, “they (farmers) will give the date now.””We have told them we are ready for talks… If they don’t want to talk and creating a problem is the motto, then I would advise farmers to be careful about such people who want to create a situation for political benefit.”I want to appeal to the farmers that there can be some elements amongst them who want to create some situation to defame farmers. They should be careful about them,” he said.Munda emphasised that the government is committed to farmers’ welfare and has increased the agriculture budget from Rs 27,000 crore to Rs 1.24 lakh crore annually in the last 10 years.Besides a legal guarantee for MSP, the farmers are demanding the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations for farmer welfare, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, and debt waiver, among others.The farmers are also seeking withdrawal of police cases and “justice” for victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstating the Land Acquisition Act 2013, withdrawing from the World Trade Organization, and compensating the families of farmers who died during the previous agitation.

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