A month before the distraught farmers of Mandsaur launched an agitation demanding higher prices for their produce, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had made a detailed presentation at a Niti Aayog meeting on doubling of farmers’ income while showcasing his State’s success in achieving double digit growth in the farm sector.Five-point agendaIn his presentation in April of this year, Mr Chouhan had mentioned five areas where the governments need to focus: decreasing the cost of cultivation; increasing productivity; shift in farm activities towards high value crops; better prices for farm produce; and risk mitigation through a comprehensive system of insurance and timely compensation.However, the agitation by farmers from the Malwa region in western Madhya Pradesh, considered the hub of soybean, pulses and spices cultivation, has shown that Mr Chauhan’s government did not apply his own prescription for the farmers of the State.In districts like Mandsaur, Neemuch and Ratlam, farmers, many of them small and marginal agriculturists with average land holding less than one hectare per family, have been complaining about the State administration’s apathy towards them.Plummeting prices“For last three years, we have been complaining about low prices of our produce. Since 2014, prices of soybean, methi, onion and pulses have plummeted by hardly any intervention by the government,” said 55-year-old Kachrulal Chadavat, a farmer from Barkheda Panth village, 20 km north of Mandsaur.Having voted overwhelmingly for the BJP in the parliamentary elections in 2014, the farmers of these districts have become bitter and vocal critics of the Centre, accusing it of adopting anti-farmers policies.According to Mr Chadavat, farming alone can no longer sustain a family. He and other farmers contend that instead of paying better prices to farmers, the Centre has allowed import of commodities to flood the market, leading to a crash in prices in the domestic market. The farmers blames a thriving nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and traders for the situation.Mr Chadavat cites the example of the fluctuating prices of soybean. “In 2005-06, we used to sell soybean at ₹5000 per quintal while the retail price of soybean oil was ₹55-60 per litre. Today, the soybean procurement price is only ₹2500-2700 while retail price of oil is ₹80 per litre,” he says pointing to the mismatch between the prices of raw commodities and the processed goods. “Lower procurement prices have led to this crisis in last three years,” said Ashok Rawat, who runs a seed shop in Naya Gaun near Neemuch.