The state government is consulting the Niti Aayog to bring in reforms in the farm sector to provide farmers an alternative to the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) to enable them to earn higher profits. “The state government is consulting the Niti Aayog to usher in sweeping reforms, which would be long-lasting and provide an alternative to the present regulated Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee,” sources in the ministry of agriculture told The Indian Express.
Preliminary reports indicate that present markets cannot cope with the challenges of farmers striving to double their farm production and seek higher remuneration. Reforms that would be discussed in the Monsoon Session of the state legislature commencing from July 24, include “deregulation of food grains from the APMC to provide more private and direct markets operating between farmers and consumers.” The model suggested would be similar to the reforms in the vegetable and fruit markets where farmers have been provided with freedom to sell their goods outside the APMCs.
While the government is not going to intervene in existing the APMC structures, it is trying to provide freedom to farmers to explore larger markets outside to fetch higher returns. According to a cabinet minister, a competitive food grain market on the lines of the vegetables and fruits markets would set the process for generating higher returns for the farmers.
While acknowledging that the government would not shed its responsibility of procurement of food grains, the minister said: “To begin with, we will bring the legislation to make non-implementation of MSP (Minimum Support Price) by traders a punishable act.” Almost three farmers’ organisations that are in discussion with the government on the MSP have also demanded reforms in the APMCs, which often force farmers to sell crops at lower prices.
There is a move to raise the number of vegetable and fruit markets from the present 48 to 100 across 36 districts of Maharashtra. Similarly, a larger network to channel the food grains to private markets in larger quantities is high on the government agenda.
Today, the MSP is confined to foods grains and pulses. The list (MSP/quintal) is as follows: paddy (Rs 1470), jowar (Rs 1625), wheat (Rs 1625), maize (Rs 1365), bajra (Rs 1330), gram (Rs 4000), tur (Rs 5050), moong (Rs 5225), udit (Rs 5000), sunflower (Rs 3950), soyabean (Rs 2775), groundnut (Rs 4220), cotton (R 4160), safflower (Rs 3700), masoor (Rs 3900), ragi (Rs 1725), sesam (Rs5000); nigerseed (Rs 3825) and mustard ( Rs 3700). The prices of all the other crops, vegetables and fruits are driven by demand and supply, as per the markets.