Tur growers in Maharashtra are staring at a cumulative loss of Rs 1,067 crore as the commodity is trading well below the government-mandated Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 5,400. Government procurement at the 180 centres is about to end on April 18 and growers in Maharashtra have little hope of price recovery towards the end of the season.
Tur had grabbed headlines in 2016 when prices of the lentil had crossed the Rs 6,000 per quintal-mark at Latur’s Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC). Continuous drought in the main tur growing region of Marthwada has escalated the prices. However, given the bumper crop in 2016-17, prices of the commodity had all but crashed. Despite a record procurement of over 7 lakh tonnes last year, prices had remained below the MSP level. Also, for the kharif season, prices started below the MSP levels as the old stock still remains unutilsed.
Forecasts by the state agriculture department had put the production of tur at 9.83 lakh tonnes (lt), of which NAFED was to procure around 4.5 lt under its Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) scheme. Till Tuesday, the state has procured a little over 1.62 lt of tur from 1.33 lakh farmers. Tur, being a kharif crop, is normally harvested after October with farmers preferring to hold up their produce for better prices for a few months before offloading the same.
The normal average price tur fetched in most of the markets was around Rs 4,250 per quintal. Thus, farmers got Rs 1,150 lesser than the MSP. The cumulative loss to farmers in the state, therefore, works out to be Rs 1,067 crores. With NAFED’s procurement deadline ending on April 18, chances of any price increase are dim. Sources in the department of marketing said they were optimistic that the deadline for procurement would be extended. “We have written for an extension of 1.5 month to meet our targets,” said the official.
The Maharashtra State Cooperative Marketing Federation has around 2.2 lakh tonnes of tur in its warehouses. Tenders have been floated to mill the whole tur and convert it into tur daal, which the government hopes to sell through public distribution systems. Given the huge stock, trade sources have ruled out any price correction in the next few months.
Ajit Navale of the All India Kisan Sabha has attributed the loss to “lack of proper planning”. “Farmers will be discouraged to grow tur the next season and its long-term effects will be faced in the retail markets too,” he said.