As farmer protests mount, government raises rice, cotton buying prices
A farmer winnows rice in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, November 4, 2016. Photograph: (Reuters)
As Indian farmers' in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra continue to protest, the Indian government has reponded.
The minimum purchase price for cotton, rice and other crops has been raised more than at any time under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure, Reuters reports.
For common grade paddy rice, local farmers will now receive 5.4 per cent more, or 1,550 rupees ($24.03) per 100 kilograms for the year effective July 1. Long staple cotton prices have been raised by 3.8 per cent, to 4,320 per 100 kilograms.
Protesting farmers seek higher prices and also debt relief. Farmers have demonstrated their frustration by dumping vegetables and milk on the roads.
Five unarmed farmers at the protests were fatally shot by police in Madhya Pradesh, which, like Maharashtra, is under Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) control. At the time Bhupendra Singh, a Madhya Pradesh state minister, denied that the police shot at the farmers, saying "Anti-social elements in the crowd fired bullets".
The unrest poses a political challenge to local BJP leaders, who made the promise to double farmers' incomes over the next five years. The state government ordered a probe of the shooting.
No country on Earth exports more rice than India, which purchases the grains from local farmers so that they can earn a living even when sales are down. This practice also helps the government build stocks for welfare programs.
The Indian government sets the minimum price for more than two dozen farm communities, though it mainly buys rice and wheat. The price of other crops like onions, tomatoes and potatoes have fallen steeply, causing growers to protest. Also, the government has stopped purchasing these crops from farmers.
(With inputs from Reuters)