How will the Supreme Court verdict against making Aadhaar mandatory impact the procurement process ahead of the kharif harvest?
We will strictly adhere to the Supreme Court order on Aadhaar. I would like to explain that our objective is to bring greater accountability in the procurement process for crops from farmers. We want to get rid of manipulations in the system. At times, there are instances of wrong data entry because of misuse of 7/12 (land records) of farmers. The state government is trying to bring greater transparency in the system. Now, with Aadhaar not mandatory, we will work out other options.
Are you indicating that biometric identification will not be compulsory?
Yes, after the Supreme Court decision, we have decided not to go ahead with biometric identification. But there are always other options, which conforms to NAFED and government of India guidelines, which would be adopted to ensure there are no manipulations. During procurement of crops from farmers, bank account numbers and latest area under crop cultivation data can help us validate the individual’s identity.
Is the government considering punishment for traders for MSP violations?
Not at all. The market economy does not allow policing. You cannot deploy police for every trader. We are not for authoritarian rule. Moreover, such a provision was never given consent in the cabinet. At least, I am not aware of any such move.
What are the plans to ensure farmers get MSP for their crops?
A massive plan is under way to ensure there are adequate procurement centres, which would cover almost all the 355 talukas. We have put in place 184 procurement centres across Maharashtra. The process of registration and operation of these centres and sub-centres has already commenced from October 3. Adequate measures have been taken to ensure that procurement of farm produce post kharif harvest is hassle-free. Lot of emphasis has been given on recruitment of adequate employees complete with training to tackle the procurement process. From quality controllers to warehouses, everything is being provided to ensure farmers are not left unattended.
What about the much-awaited reforms in the APMC?
The reforms are very much on the cards. There is also pressure from the Centre to carry out the reforms as per the Agriculture Produce and Market Livestock Model Act. The electronic national agriculture market (e-NAM) and electronic krishi bazaar are among other steps being worked out, which would help farmers. The effort is to bring convergence with the model Act and present markets. There are many provisions of the APMC Act which are not conducive to e-NAM. The reforms are likely to be discussed in the cabinet next week and then an ordinance promulgated within the next 15 days.
What is the government’s estimates on production and procurement of kharif crops for 2018-19?
The production of moong is expected to be 14.7 lakh quintal and proposed procurement is 4 lakh quintal. For urad, expected production is 14.7 lakh quintal and proposed procurement 3.50 lakh quintal. For soybean, expected production is 450 lakh quintal and procurement 25 lakh quintal. The MSP for moong is Rs 6,975, urad Rs 5,575 and soybean Rs 3,390 per quintal.
Your views on the state government’s decision to export soybean de-oiled cake to China…
It is a positive development. The US and China are having a trade war. As a result, major export of soybean from US to China has been affected. China is looking for alternatives. A delegation from China opened dialogue with the Maharashtra government. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis held discussions with the delegation. They are keen on de-oiled soya cake from Maharashtra. It will help farmers as, along with good production, there is a huge demand for soybean. Our estimate is soybean farmers may not even come to procurement centres as demand spikes.