WHILE THE state government officially announced the start of the purchase of groundnut at minimum support price (MSP) in a bid to lift the prices in the state on Saturday, the actual operation has not started for lack of proper arrangements and officials said it will take a few days to streamline the process. After farmers protested at some agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) last month, state government announced to intervene in the market and start purchasing groundnut at MSP after Diwali.
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The Central government also approved of a Gujarat government proposal on November 2 and asked the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation to start purchasing the oilseeds at the MSP of Rs 4,220 per quintal from APMCs in Gujarat immediately. In the state, Gujarat State Cooperative Cotton Federation (Gujcot) has been identified as nodal agency to facilitate the intervention.
Following up on the earlier announcement, Agriculture Minister Chiman Sapariya launched the drive from Jamjodhpur APMC in Jamnagar district on Saturday. But around 10 days after the government announcement, the market intervention intended to push prices up and thereby improve realisation of farmers is yet to take off. The government has identified 59 APMCs in the state centres to purchase groundnut will be opened. Majority of these centres are in Saurashtra, the groundnut bowl of the state. But almost nowhere was groundnut purchased in considerable quantity till Monday.
“Gujcot officials came to our yard to inform us that they will start purchasing groundnut from here. But they told us that they will wait for further instructions from their superiors before they actually start purchasing the commodity,” said Hitesh Patel, secretary of Jamnagar APMC.
Jamnagar APMC recorded arrival of 1,688 quintals of groundnut on Monday and prices remained in the range of Rs 3,750 to Rs 4,625. But majority of the stock fetched price below MSP (Rs 4,220/quintal) during the day, added the secretary.
Gujcot officers paid a visit to Rajkot APMC also and purchased token five quintal groundnut. Amreli APMC, where farmers had forced suspension of auction on October 23 due to low prices, received around 560 quintal of groundnut on Monday. “MSP operations have not started here on full scale. The highest price quoted on Monday was Rs 4,070 per quintal which is well below the MSP,” said an officer of the yard.
Gondal APMC, the biggest market of groundnut in the state, remained closed due to birth anniversary of Jalaram bapa, but yard chairman Jayanti Dhol said arrangements had been put in place for a Gujcot centre.
The process is meandering in APMCs in north Gujarat also. “They started their operations Monday and have purchased 14 quintal of groundnut. Today, we received around 1,000 quintal of groundnut and the highest price was quoted at Rs 4,650,” said Margesh Shah, secretary of Himmatnagar APMC.
Gujcot conceded arrangements were not fully in place. “We are making arrangements with societies at APMC level to facilitate purchase of groundnut. We have to adhere to the guidelines of the Central government and arrangements need to be made accordingly. Within next two to three days, necessary arrangements will be made and MSP intervention will be fully operational,” Gujcot managing director Narmadashanker Sharma said. In fact, many APMCs said that they were formally approached by Gujcot on Monday only.
While the overall production the state is estimated to be above 26 lakh tonnes, the government has announced to purchase only one lakh tonn at MSP. “Our initial mandate is to purchase 1 lakh tonne only. The guidelines on fair average quality (FAQ) of groundnut has also been set by the Central government,” added the Gujcot MD.
The guidelines circulated by Gujcot among the APMCs state put an upper cap of 17.5 quintal that a farmer can sell to the government per day. A farmer will also have to furnish 7/12 and 8-A certificates of their land which should contain details like the area of groundnut cultivation and per hectare yield. He will also have to produce certificates issued by village revenue clerk certifying that groundnut was sown in his field. Gujcot officials said that payments will be made through bank accounts only and therefore farmers were required to submit their bank details also. Payment will be credited in farmers account around five days after purchase, they added.