Farmers hit hard amid skyrocketing fuel prices

NEW DELHI: The skyrocketing price of petrol and diesel is affecting farmers the most as they are in the middle of crop harvesting and sowing and under the current scenario, it is less likely that they would get any relief from this.

The price of diesel rose for the 16th consecutive day on Monday and the total increase is over ₹8 per litre during this period. As the mechanisation of farm activities picks up, driven by labour shortage and rising wages, the fuel price rise has upset the farmers' calculations and could delay the process of doubling farm incomes.

A sharp increase in diesel price over the past fortnight is seen pushing up cultivation costs as Kharif sowing picks up across several States. Petrol price in Delhi was hiked to Rs 79.56 per litre from Rs 79.23 while diesel rates were increased to Rs 78.55 a litre from Rs 78.27, according to a price notification of state oil marketing companies.

Rising fuel prices will hit the agriculture sector hard, said Rajendra Sharma, farm policy expert. The fuel price rise is happening at a time when farm wages have almost doubled in many places. At this critical juncture, the government should step in and handhold the farmers as agriculture is the only sector that's keeping the economy going, Sharma said.

Rates have been increased across the country and vary from state to state depending on the incidence of local sales tax or value added tax (VAT).

The increase in rates since June 7 is the highest in any fortnight. When petrol and diesel pricing was deregulated in April 2002, oil companies revised rates every fortnight in line with the cost. They switched to daily price revision in May 2017 to allow cost to reflect instantaneously in retail rates.

Prior to the current rally, the peak diesel rates had touched was on October 16, 2018, when prices had climbed to Rs 75.69 per litre in Delhi. The highest-ever petrol price was on October 4, 2018, when rates soared to Rs 84 a litre in Delhi.

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