4th round of talks between Union Ministers, farmers end with Centre proposing 5-yr deal to buy pulses & cotton at MSP

Chandigarh: The fourth round of meeting between three Central ministers and farmer leaders ended here in the early hours of Monday after over four hours of deliberations with Union Minister Piyush Goyal saying they proposed a five-year deal with the farmers to buy pulses and cotton at minimum support price (MSP).

However, farmers told the ministers that they would get back after discussion at 10 a.m. on Monday.

Saying that the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere, and they had reached consensus to some extent, he said: “With new ideas and thoughts, we had a positive discussion with the Bhartiya Kisan Mazdoor Union and other farmer leaders. The farmers’ union representatives have given some positive suggestions which will benefit the farmers of Punjab, Haryana, as well as the farmers, the economy and consumers of the country.

“We have together proposed a very innovative, out-of-the-box idea. The government proposed cooperative societies like NCCF (National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India) and NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India) will form a contract for the next five years and buy products from the farmers on MSP. There will be no limit on the quantity,” he told the media after the talks.

For procurement of cotton, Goyal said: “We proposed the Cotton Corporation of India will enter five-year agreement with farmers to buy cotton crop at MSP.”

Besides Goyal, the other Union Ministers who held talks with the ministers were Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai.

They first had an informal meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann at a hotel in Sector 17 before starting deliberations with the farmer leaders regarding the ongoing protest.

The Punjab unit of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of protesting farmer organisations, gave a call for day and night mass protest against MPs, MLAs and district presidents of the BJP from February 20 to 22.

The previous round of talks largely remained inconclusive as they failed to address the farmers’ demands for a legal guarantee from the MSP for their crops.

After the last round of talks that ended on February 16, Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda said: “We have had discussions in a positive manner on various issues. We will have a fourth round of talks next Sunday.”

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher on Saturday said the Centre should bring an ordinance on giving a legal guarantee to MSP, a key demand of farmers currently camping at the Shambhu and the Khanauri points of the Punjab-Haryana border.

Meanwhile, the ban on Internet services has been extended for two more days in Haryana till February 19.

The government had earlier extended the suspension of the mobile Internet till February 15.

IANS

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