NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India has raised the price at which it could buy new-season summer crops, including rice by up to 50%, farm minister told a news conference after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The government announces the so-called minimum support prices (MSPs) for various crops to set a benchmark. But state agencies buy limited quantities of staples such as rice and wheat at those prices, restricting the benefits of guaranteed prices to only around 7% of the country’s 263 million farmers, according to various studies.

But the government has decided to raise the support price by up to 50% to support farmers reeling from an extended lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar, Aftab Ahmed and Mayank Bhardwaj, editing by Louise Heavens)