Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a form of market intervention by the Government of India to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices. The minimum support prices are announced by the Government of India at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). The minimum support prices are a guarantee price for their produce from the Government. The major objectives are to support the farmers from distress sales and to procure food grains for public distribution. In case the market price for the commodity falls below the announced minimum price due to bumper production and glut in the market, govt. agencies purchase the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced minimum price.
Minimum support prices are currently announced for 24 commodities including seven cereals (paddy, wheat, barley, jowar, bajra, maize and ragi); five pulses (gram, arhar/tur, moong, urad and lentil); eight oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed/mustard, toria, soyabean, sunflower seed, sesamum, safflower seed and nigerseed); copra, raw cotton, raw jute and virginia flu cured (VFC) tobacco.
The emergence of agricultural Price Policy in India was in the backdrop of food scarcity and price fluctuations provoked by drought, floods and international prices for exports and imports. This policy in general was directed towards ensuring reasonable food prices for consumers by providing food grains through Public Distribution System (PDS) and inducing adoption of the new technology for increasing yield by providing a price support mechanism through Minimum Support Price (MSP) system.
In recognition of the importance of assuring reasonable produce prices to the farmers, motivating them to adopt improved technology and to promote investment by them in farm enterprises, the Agricultural Prices Commission (renamed as the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices in 1985) was established in 1965 for advising the Government on agricultural prices policy on a continuing basis. The thrust of the policy in 1965 was to evolve a balanced and integrated structure to meet the overall needs of the economy and with due regard to the interests of the producers and the consumers. The first Commission was headed by Prof M L Dantwala and in its final report the Commission suggested the Minimum Support Prices for Paddy.
Method of Calculation
In formulating the recommendations in respect of the level of minimum support prices and other non-price measures, the CACP takes into account a comprehensive view of the entire structure of the economy of a particular commodity or group of commodities. Other Factors include cost of production, changes in input prices, input-output price parity, trends in market prices, demand and supply, inter-crop price parity, effect on industrial cost structure, effect on cost of living, effect on general price level, international price situation, parity between prices paid and prices received by the farmers and effect on issue prices and implications for subsidy.
The production cost, as calculated by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, is based on three different methods, termed as A2, A2+FL, and C2. A2 covers all paid-out expenses, including in cash and in kind, namely, cost on account of seeds, chemicals, hired labour, irrigation, fertilizers and fuel. A2+FL covers actual paid cost and unpaid family labour. C2 includes all actual expenses in cash and kind incurred in production and rent paid for leased land, imputed value of family labour plus interest paid.
Report of National Commission for Farmers (NCF)/Swaminathan Committee Report had recommended that MSP should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production. However, this had not been accepted by the Government.