RSS affiliate seeks rollback of import duty cuts

Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, the RSS-affiliated farmers’ union, has accused the government of easing imports at a time when farmers have an opportunity to sell produce at a good price.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the group demanded a long term import-export policy for agricultural produce and asked the government to roll back the import duty cuts. It said it had given a memorandum on this to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.

“Maize is not bought at the minimum support price (MSP) in any state. And when the time comes for the market itself to offer the price, then prices are controlled by easing imports. Maize is a good alternative to soybean meal as poultry fodder. But by easing import of soybean meal, the government is annoying maize farmers,” said the statement, quoting from the memorandum.

The communique , signed by BKS General Secretary Badri Narayan Chaudhary, also said soybean meal is derived from genetically modified crops which could “threaten the non-GM tag that India enjoys in the international market”.

“Similarly, when it is time for the cotton produce to reach the markets, the arrival of imported cotton will only dampen the market. Only recently, just the news of a delegation of (textile) federation meeting the minister hit the cotton prices by Rs 1,000 a ton. Most farmers are forced to sell below the MSP. But when there is a situation that they can make a bit more than the MSP in the market, prices are made to fall through easing of imports,” the BKS said.

Last week, Goyal had met textile industry firms and cautioned cotton bale traders to refrain from manipulation of prices or resort to hoarding. He had also told them to “resolve the cotton pricing issue in the spirit of collaboration rather than competition”.

“Cotton prices are ruling above the MSP level by about 40 per cent i.e. Rs 8,500 per quintal as against a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 6,025 per quintal. Farmers are getting reasonably good prices for their produce which is in tandem with other agri-commodities as well,” said a government statement released after the meeting.

BKS has been on the same page as Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the farm union collective agitating against the farm laws, with regard to he demand for a legal guarantee for minimum support price.

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