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MSP for Paddy Hiked By 13%

“Higher MSP was a demand from the farmers, we should all be happy with the decision,” said the agriculture minister.

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Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

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The government has decided to sharply increase the minimum support price for Kharif crops, as it responds to concerns about distress in the country’s farm economy despite two years of strong monsoons.

The MSP for common variety paddy will be raised by Rs 200 over last year’s Rs 1,550 per quintal, said Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. That works out to be a 13 percent increase for FY19 compared to a 5.4 percent increase in FY18.

The year-on-year jump in MSP for most other Kharif crops has also been far steeper than the annual increases announced over the last three years. Ragi and Jowar saw among the steepest price increases of 52.4 percent and 42.9 percent respectively. The MSP increase for moong in the pulses category stood at 25 percent. For cotton, the support price was hiked by 28 percent.

The higher support prices will benefit the rural economy and improve the purchasing power of the farm sector, said Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a press conference in New Delhi. The additional government spend on account of the higher MSPs will be to the tune of Rs 15,000 crore, Singh said.

Upholding its budget promise, the cabinet has ensured that the MSP for the Kharif season is 50 percent above the cost of production, Agriculture Secretary Shobhana Pattanayak told BloombergQuint. The formula used for the cost of production is ‘A2 + FL’, which takes into account the actual cost plus imputed value of family labour.

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“Higher MSP was a demand from the farmers, we should all be happy with the decision,” said the agriculture minister.

In the Union Budget, the government had assured farmers of a minimum support price of 50 percent above cost as a way to ensure that farm incomes double by 2022. However, at the time, there was no clarity on the cost formula to be used.

The increase in MSPs is in line with what most people expected even though it is higher than the last three years, economist Abhijit Sen told BloombergQuint.

“The backdrop is one of farmers distress and low prices that farmers are getting. But the point is that MSP declaration is one thing and what farmers get actually in hand is often a different thing. So farmers will be more bothered about the actuality rather than the decisions of this kind, although farmers do look forward to a good MSP.”
Abhijit Sen, Economist
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Farm Sector Growth: Real Vs Nominal

The sharp increase in support price of paddy is a response to signs of farm distress emerging from different parts of the country, despite two good monsoons. Economists attribute this to the low nominal growth in the farm sector due to depressed prices.

In a report dated 2 July, Soumya Kanti Ghosh, chief economist at State Bank of India pointed out that the GDP deflator for the farm sector has been constantly declining from 9.9 percent in FY13 to 1.1 percent in FY18. The GDP deflator is a measure of inflation used to deduce real GDP growth from nominal GDP growth.

“This decline in agri-GDP deflator is an indication of distress and low level of purchasing power in rural/agriculture area. Such a decline also coincides with the inflation targeting regime introduced by RBI from FY13.”
Soumya Kanti Ghosh, Chief Economist, SBI 

Signs of farm distress has prompted a number of states to announce farm loan waivers. Over the past twelve months or so, six states have announced loan waivers. This includes Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Total loans waived stand at over Rs 88,000 crore.

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The Macro Impact

The higher MSPs will be inflationary with the price increase in paddy likely to have the largest impact. The weight on non-subsidised rice in the CPI index is at 4.4 percent. As such a 12-13 percent increase would imply an impact of between 40-50 basis points, Sajjid Chinoy, chief India economist told BloombergQuint.

UBS estimates a headline inflation impact of between 35-40 basis points from the MSP increases.

“General expectation in the market was of a 40-50 basis point impact on inflation. So it is largely in line with what the bond market was pricing in. Nothing too high so that’s why you have not seen much of a reaction on the bond yields, which slipped after the announcement.”
Tanvee Gupta Jain, Chief India Economist, UBS Securities

The monetary policy committee in its June policy review had cited higher MSPs as a upside risk to inflation, while adding that there is still little clarity on the final pricing for the kharif season. With the pricing now announced, the MPC will likely factor in higher inflation in the second half of the year, making further rate hikes more likely.

While higher MSPs will be inflationary, they will also add to rural demand, which has already been strengthening.

In a report dated 25 June, economists at HDFC Bank said “green shoots” have been visible in recent months. Sales of big ticket items like tractors, which are usually seen as a lead indicator of rural demand, have picked up. Sales of multi-purpose vans and motorcycles have also remained strong. “According to a recent study by Nielsen India, rural growth outpaced urban demand, rising by 13.5 percent in Q4 FY18,” HDFC Bank noted.

(This article was first published on BloombergQuint)

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