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December 14, 2017

Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices is working without non-official members


Lalit Shastri

The priority being given to agriculture and the objective of seeking advice on a continuing basis on agricultural price policy and price structure in the context of the need to raise agricultural production and give relief to the consumer is amply revealed by the fact that the process of selecting two non-official members of the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP), which came into existence in January 1965, is caught up in red-tape since for over a year now.

The website of the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) states that the Commission comprises a Chairman, Member Secretary, one Member (Official) and two Members (Non-Official). The non-official members are representatives of the farming community. The Commission is now functioning without the non-official members.

When contacted, officials in the Ministery of Agriculture and the Commission informed Newsroom24x7 that the matter relating to the selection of non-official members has been pending at the level of the Cabinet Secretary. The Chairman and Secretary of the Commission were not available for comments.

On probing the issue further, it has been learnt that about half a dozen candidates, short-listed from thousands of applicants from across the country were interviewed for appointment as non-official members of CACP by the Cabinet Secretary and four others at Rashtrapati Bhawan in the first week of September 2016. Immediately after that the CID verification was also done in the case of two farmers -one from Madhya Pradesh and another from Haryana. Thereafter, the whole process of selection has gone into a state of suspended animation and there is total lack of transparency in this matter. As a consequence of this, the Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices is functioning as an incomplete body without non-official members, who are supposed to be representatives of the farming community.

CACP has a crucial role to play and this is spelled out in clear terms by the Commission on its website. It says:

“It is mandated to recommend minimum support prices (MSPs) to incentivize the cultivators to adopt modern technology, and raise productivity and overall grain production in line with the emerging demand patterns in the country. Assurance of a remunerative and stable price environment is considered very important for increasing agricultural production and productivity since the market place for agricultural produce tends to be inherently unstable, which often inflict
undue losses on the growers, even when they adopt the best available technology package and produce efficiently. Towards this end, MSP for major agricultural products are fixed by the government, each year, after taking into account the recommendations of the Commission.”

CACP submits its recommendations to the government in the form of Price Policy Reports every year, separately for five groups of commodities namely Kharif crops, Rabi crops, Sugarcane, Raw Jute and Copra.

Minimum support price (MSP) for major agricultural products are fixed by the government, each year, after taking into account the recommendations of the Commission. Currently, CACP recommends MSPs of 23 commodities, which comprise 7 cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, barley and ragi), 5 pulses (gram, tur, moong, urad, lentil), 7 oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed-mustard, soyabean, seasmum, sunflower, safflower, nigerseed), and 4 commercial crops (copra, sugarcane, cotton and raw jute).

The fact that CACP is working without involving representatives of the farming community is a huge lapse especially when the cry for waiver of rural loans has touched its peak; agriculturists in different parts of the country are agitating for hike in procurement prices; and the debt ridden farmers, who are under extreme economic pressure due to soaring input costs, are being forced to commit suicide.

Click here for GAZETTE OF INDIA, JANUARY 16, 1965

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