Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said the decision to hike the Minimum Support Price (MSP) was taken by the Cabinet and clarified that his remarks on decreasing MSP have been "falsely attributed" to him.
"Union Cabinet under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership had decided to hike MSP. I have not made any statements about decreasing MSP. This has been falsely attributed to me and I feel bad about it. Farmers should stay away from the wrong news. The Central government has always protected farmers and will continue doing so," Gadkari told .
This comes in the backdrop of media reports quoting him that the government's minimum support prices for agriculture crops are way higher than domestic market prices and international rates which can create an "economic crisis" in the country.
"Earlier in an interview, I had said that there is a surplus of sugar, wheat and rice in our country and there is a lack of oil seeds. We import edible oil worth Rs 90,000 crore. So, there is a need to change the crop pattern," he said.
Gadkari stated that some measures were decided to increase the production of ethanol in the country.
"In order to benefit farmers, it was decided to produce ethanol with rice and wheat surplus. In Haryana and Punjab, we have to set up corn in large numbers which will help in ethanol production and there will an increase in the income," he said.
The Union Minister said that the MSP decided by the government is to protect farmers in the country.
"In order to decrease our import, we have to use rice and sugar for ethanol production. In the world market, 1 kg of sugar is worth Rs 22 to Rs 23. In our country, we are protecting our farmers by providing 1 kg of sugar worth Rs 34. Same goes with rice and wheat. The prices are less in the international market but we have increased the MSP," he added.
Earlier this month, the Union Cabinet approved an increase in MSP for the kharif crops.
Briefing the media on the Cabinet decisions, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the MSP has been increased for all mandated kharif crops for marketing season 2020-21.
The Cabinet also approved the extension of repayment date for short term loans for agriculture and allied activities by banks which have become due or shall become due between March 1 and August 31, 2020.
( With inputs from ANI )