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India hikes crop prices as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to win over farmers ahead of national elections

India hikes crop prices as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to win over farmers ahead of national elections
India hikes crop prices as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to win over farmers ahead of national elections

 


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A woman cleans rice grains at a wholesale market in Navi Mumbai, India, August 4, 2023.Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

India on Wednesday raised the government-imposed price for summer-sown crops such as rice, soybeans and cotton, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to woo millions of farmers ahead of key national elections that will take place later this year.

The country announces support prices for more than a dozen crops each year to set a benchmark. But analysts say this increase could harm public finances and also increase food inflation.

India has increased the price at which it will buy new-season common rice from farmers by 5.4 percent, to 2,300 rupees ($27.57) per 100 kg, Information Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Wednesday. after a cabinet meeting chaired by Modi.

Higher prices will encourage farmers to increase production in the world's second-largest rice producer, and bountiful harvests could encourage the government to ease a ban on some exports. India is the world's largest exporter of rice.

The procurement price of paddy has been increased to reflect rising production costs, which will encourage farmers to increase production, said BV Krishna Rao, president of the Indian Rice Exporters Association.

However, this will also make Indian rice more expensive for foreign buyers. To mitigate this, the government should reduce export duties from 20 to 15 percent, Rao said.

India imposed a 20 percent duty on parboiled rice exports after banning shipments of white rice last year.

Every year, authorities raise support prices for staples such as rice and wheat to build up stocks to run the world's largest food protection program, which allows the poor to receive free grain.

The Modis Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alone failed to secure a majority in the recent general elections, losing more than six dozen seats in rural areas.

The BJP faces provincial elections later this year in two key agricultural states, Haryana and Maharashtra, which have powerful farm lobbies.

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