After remaining suspended for almost eight days, trade in the wholesale markets across the state will resume from Tuesday but with a rider. The businessmen have decided not to trade in commodities for which paying the Minimum Support Price (MSP) is not feasible for them. It will result in traders purchasing only soybean in the wholesale markets as it is the only commodity that is trading near its MSP of Rs 3,399 per quintal.
Traders in Maharashtra have been protesting against the state cabinet’s decision to make purchases below MSP punishable with a year’s jail sentence and a fine of Rs 50,000. This, the Devendra Fadnavis-led government had done by enacting an amendment to the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 1963. While no government resolution has followed up the decision, most wholesale markets in the state have seen suspension of trade. Conflicting signals from the state government had not helped the situation. On Saturday, the director of marketing had issued a letter asking for resumption of trade and stating that no operational GR has been issued regarding amendment and directed district deputy registrars to ensure markets become operational.
In view of the unrest, the Maharashtra Federation of Traders’ Association had called a meeting in Pune to discuss the matter on Monday. More than 300 traders had attended the meeting from across the state. Walchand Sancheti, chairman of the association said businessmen have decided to resume the trade but refused to participate in auction/trade of commodities paying of MSP to farmers is not feasible for them. “Wholesale prices are determined by the supply-demand situation as well as international markets,” Sancheti said. It would effectively mean that traders would be participating only in the trade of soybean. Most of the other commodities like tur and moong are trading well below their government-declared MSP. Tur, for example, is trading between Rs 3,200 and 3,500 per quintal in most mandis as against the MSP of Rs 5,675 a quintal. Asked if it will attract action on traders, Sancheti replied in negative. While the traders have agreed to resume the markets, the association has given an ultimatum to the state government to clarify its stand regarding the prposed amendment within a month.