The move, ahead of the 2019 elections, is with a strong political message (Representational)
As India has been witnessing distressed farmers’ protest in different states, Kerala’s Left government has made a loud political point by announcing purchase of agricultural produce like onions, potatoes from North Indian farmers with a Minimum Support Price.
“Kerala produces only 20-25% of its food requirements. Farmers from the Kisan long march in Maharashtra reached out to us asking if we could intervene, since we have high demand for onions. We discussed with Kerala Chief Minister and decided to make attempts to eliminate middle men and deal directly with farmers assuring them to Minimum Support Price. We will have to see how the modalities can be worked out. But this is already a budgetary proposal,” Finance Minister Thomas Isaac told NDTV.
The move, ahead of the parliamentary elections, is with a strong political message. “Of course there is a message. In Kerala, I have not heard of onions being sold at below Rs 15 per kg. And we are talking about onions at Rs 2 per kg in some North Indian states. That is unimaginable. Central government and state government have to act to save farmers. And Kerala government is saying yes to this”, Thomas Isaac added.
The 2019 Budget by the Centre assured small and marginal farmers of a direct income support of Rs 6000 per annum, to be transferred directly to farmers in three installments. Congress President Rahul Gandhi slammed the move as an “insult” saying, the amount translates to Rs 17 a day which is a complete insult to farmers”.