Make farming pricing body autonomous: Badal

Gandhinagar, Sep 9 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal Monday demanded that a central government body that decides the prices of farm produce must be made autonomous.

Speaking at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit here, Badal accused the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices (CACP) of never consulting states while deciding the minimum support price of foodgrain.

"This body should be (made) autonomous," he said, addressing a vast audience at the Mahatma Mandir auditorium as CACP head Ashok Gulati shared the dais with Chief Minister Narendra Modi and many others.

"The government should not decide the minimum support price," Badal went on. "The autonomous body should have genuine representatives of our farmers."

The chief minister accused the CACP and the central government of not paying farmers enough for their produce.

"Are your decisions right?" he asked, looking towards Gulati. "Do you know how much diesel and other input costs have gone up?

"We are not even consulted regarding the pricing (of foodgrain)," he added.

Badal criticized the central government's suggestion that farmers in Punjab should give up rice cultivation in view of depleting water table.

"It's easy to say 'don't grow paddy'. But when there was a crisis in agriculture, the farmer was told to grow paddy. Now that the farmer is in crisis, should not the government come to his help?

"Yes, diversification in farming will help. But can there be diversification minus funds?"

Badal accused the central government of pursuing "a step motherly" policy towards farmers.

He added that he would like to emulate Narendra Modi and host the next Global Agriculture Summit in Punjab in February 2014.

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