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Farmer groups divided on wheat export ban, seek stronger crop export policy for better income​

Farmer groups divided on wheat export ban, seek stronger crop export policy for better income​

Farmer groups divided on wheat export ban, seek stronger crop export policy for better income​
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By Abhimanyu Sharma  May 17, 2022 6:22:16 PM IST (Published)

CNBC-TV18 spoke to four farmer groups, which presented varying stands on the order, though there is a near-unanimous demand for a robust export policy to help farmers earn more.

Even as wheat exporters urge the Union government to walk back the ban imposed on the export of wheat, farmer groups are divided in their opinion of the government's move. CNBC-TV18 spoke to four farmer groups, which presented varying stands on the order, though there is a near-unanimous demand for a robust export policy to help farmers earn more. Here's what the groups had to say:

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Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS)
The RSS-affiliate farmer group feels that theˀ ban on wheat exports was imposed in haste when farmers could have benefited from higher prices in the export markets. Urging the Union government to allow exports of wheat for the benefit of traders and farmers, the group suggested that an additional Rs. 500 be given to farmers by the Centre, as well as states, over the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to offset incurred losses.
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan
The group's convenor, VM Singh, has welcomed the ban on wheat exports in the larger interest of consumers. Stating that Central India harvests wheat by February and Northern India by April, he pointed out that farmers have already sold most of their wheat stock to traders or government and won't be impacted by the ban. With less than normal production of wheat this year, he added that wheat shouldn't be exported if there are apprehensions of scarcity, accusing various wheat exporting traders of trying to make a killing by hoarding over 80 percent of wheat stock.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakonda
The union's heneral secretary, Jagmohan Singh, questioned the timing of the wheat export ban, stating that India was selling wheat abroad when international prices were low and stopped when they rose. Despite shrivelling crops and a lower yield this year, he maintained that for now, India has enough wheat for self-consumption. However, he stressed on the imminent need for upgradation of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and for an improvement in wheat storage facilities to ensure that wheat stocks don't spoil. Pointing to the entry of multinational corporations in most sectors of the economy, he stressed upon the need for the government to implement a robust crop export policy to help farmers earn more.
ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture)
The group's convenor Kavitha Kuruganti has batted for the use of real-time data for policy decision-making in the era of climate change, where adverse weather conditions have become the new normal. Stating that it isn't useful to debate the export ban, she urged governments to instead offer a bonus over MSP to procure wheat stocks lying with farmers instead of penalising them with ad-hoc decision-making.
Terming the removal of import duty on cotton as yet another instance of the government siding with consumers and industries clamouring for cheaper raw materials at the farmers' expense, she there is a danger of a larger policy failure in absence of reliable data systems, coordination between ministries and prediction abilities of anticipated as well as current crop stocks. She sought a predictable policy environment with no midway changes in export-import policies from the start of the sowing season to the end of marketing for all crops.
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