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Farmers Protest: Centre proposes 5-year plan to buy pulses, maize at MSP

Farmers Protest: Centre proposes 5-year plan to buy pulses, maize at MSP

In a significant development amid ongoing farmers protests, the central government has proposed a comprehensive five-year plan for the purchase of essential crops at Minimum Support Prices (MSP). This proposal, announced during the fourth round of talks with farmer leaders, aims to address concerns raised by protesting farmers regarding crop pricing and procurement.

Government’s Proposal

The proposal involves the procurement of pulses, maize, and cotton crops by government agencies at MSP over a five-year period. A panel comprising Agriculture and Farmer Welfare Minister Arjun Munda, Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, and Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai presented the plan, showcasing a collaborative effort towards finding a solution to the ongoing deadlock. Minister Goyal described the discussions as “positive,” emphasizing the importance of addressing farmers’ concerns.

Farmers’ Response

Following the announcement of the government’s proposal, farmer leaders belonging to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha have decided to withhold their “Delhi Chalo” march temporarily. Instead, they plan to convene internal discussions within their respective forums on February 19-20 to deliberate on the proposal and seek expert opinions. This decision reflects a cautious approach by the farmers, indicating a willingness to engage with the government’s initiatives while ensuring their interests are adequately represented.

The temporary halt of the “Delhi Chalo ” march allows for a thorough review of the government’s MSP plan, emphasizing the importance of informed decision-making by farmer representatives. Sarwan Singh Pandher, a prominent farmer leader, affirmed that discussions on critical issues such as loan waivers are pending and expressed hope for resolution within the stipulated time frame. However, he also emphasized that the resumption of the march on February 21 remains a possibility if all issues are not satisfactorily addressed.

Political and Regional Dynamics

Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, present at the talks, emphasized the need for crop diversification and urged the lifting of internet suspensions in certain areas. While advocating for farmers’ interests, Mann underscored the autonomy of farmer unions in deciding on government proposals, highlighting the collaborative yet independent nature of ongoing negotiations.

Continued Farmers Protest and Dialogue

Despite the temporary pause, farmer leaders belonging to the Samyukta Kisan Morcha have announced further protests to maintain pressure on the government to meet their demands. The farmers’ union plans to gather at the residences of BJP leaders in Punjab for three days, and make toll barriers free for commuters from February 20 to 22.

A high-level meeting of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha will be held in Delhi on February 22 to strategize on future demands and actions

Meanwhile, the suspension of internet services has been extended in certain areas of Punjab districts, including Patiala, Sangrur, and Fatehgarh Sahib, until 24th February 2024.

The Haryana government has also suspended mobile internet services and bulk SMS in several districts, including Ambala, Kurukshetra, and Hisar.

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