India. Import duty on wheat soon to help farmers

24.03.2017

The Government may soon re-impose import duty on wheat to protect the farmers fearing fall in the domestic prices because of a bumper crop.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ramvilas Paswan disclosed this in response to a concern expressed by the opposition members over the farmers not able to get even the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1625 per tonne fixed by the government because of good yield and their condition worsening due to cheaper imports.

He admitted that there was a surplus wheat production this year and moreover the government already had stock from the last year’s procurement, but the government opted to wait for a while to ensure the crop is not damaged due to rains or bad weather. He said imposition of the import duty is already “under consideration” and the decision would come “soon.”

Refuting the claim of Congress member Anand Sharma, who was the commerce minister in the previous government, that there was 25% import duty on wheat until last year to protect the farmers, Paswan said the import duty was rather zero from 2006 to 2015.

A duty of 25% was imposed only in 2015 which was later reduced to 10% and then waived.The issue was brought into focus by Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav that the farmers, particularly in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat where the wheat crop comes early, are in bad shape. He said the MSP itself was very little in view of the cost of production coming to around Rs 1900 per quintal and that was the reason why the farmers were not able to pay debts and committing suicides.


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