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Farmer Agitation | Center offers Punjab farmers a parallel 5-yr deal to buy pulses & cotton at MSP, no commitment on other demands

Punjab Newsline | Updated on Monday, February 19, 2024 10:27 AM IST

CHANDIGARH: The fourth round of meeting between three Central ministers and Punjab farmer leaders ended here in ambiguity 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. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who was present in the meeting left it upto the farmer organisations to accept or not to accept the offer. He however said the proposal would help crop diversification in the state where water levels are going down every year.

The farmer leaders said that as such no discussion was held on main demands like MSP Guarantee law. Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher 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. He said that their programme of starting 'Dilli Chalo' march is not cancelled yet. If an agreement was not reached on key demands by tomorrow, they will restart the march at 11 AM on February 21.

Piyush Goyal 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 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."

Ar=t the same time, 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.

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.

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