Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal on Friday said the protest over new farm laws and particularly on the MSP issue is confined to Congress-ruled Punjab only as the state government and some political parties are playing "politics" to create confusion among farmers.
He also accused the Punjab government of "standing with middlemen and not with farmers".
The central government is targeting procurement of 742 lakh tonnes of paddy in the ongoing 2020-21 kharif marketing season at MSP value of Rs 1,40,078 crore as against 627 lakh tonnes at MSP value of Rs 1,15,172 crore in 2019-20, he added.
Paddy procurement commenced in Punjab and Haryana from September 26 due to early arrival of the crop, while in other states, it began from October 1.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Goyal said: "I believe the data (of paddy procurement) sends out a clear message to all farmers across the country that an attempt has been made to create confusion among farmers in Punjab but farmers haven't got confused."
"This (protest) is limited to Punjab alone, not other parts of the country. The government and some parties out there are creating politics and standing with middlemen not with farmers," he said.
The rise in paddy procurement over the years and even so far this kharif marketing season clearly shows that the Modi government is standing with farmers who are aware of this fact and welcomed the new farm laws, he added.
The minister mentioned that paddy procurement in the ongoing kharif marketing season increased by 24 per cent to 188 lakh tonnes in little over a month from 151 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
In Punjab, procurement rose by 37 per cent to 129.72 lakh tonnes till October 29, while in Uttar Pradesh it rose 400 per cent to 3,90,920 tonnes and in Tamil Nadu it went up 900 per cent to 3,56,852 tonnes in the said period, it said.
Goyal said the government has hiked paddy MSP by 40 per cent to Rs 1,888 per quintal for this year over that of 2013-14. About 1.57 crore farmers are expected to benefit from procurement of paddy at MSP this year.
Purchasing centres have been increased by 71 per cent to 64,515 this year from over 2013-14 level, he added.
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