Farmer leaders in Maharashtra have sought immediate government intervention to prevent the prices of commodities from falling any further in wholesale markets. A delegation of farmers, led by Raghunath Patil, met Minister of Cooperation Subhash Deshmukh on Thursday to discuss the issue.
On Wednesday, the central government had declared a hike in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of rabi crops, meant to placate farmers who have been receiving lower returns on agricultural produce. “If they were serious about implementing the prices, they would have ensured an adequate number of procurement centres were operational, where farmers can sell their produce at the government-declared MSP,” he said.
The farmer leader also drew attention to the non-payment of over Rs 280 crore by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) to farmers who had sold tur and chana during the last season. “It has been over a year since the farmers have sold their produce, yet the payment is pending,” said Patil, adding that he had raised these issues during his discussions with the minister and sought a quick resolution.
Prices of commodities, including soybean, have been falling in wholesale markets in the state. On Wednesday, the average traded price of the oilseed was Rs 3,100 per quintal, as against its MSP of Rs 3,399. The fall in price of the oilseed comes at a time when the state has reported 39.29 lakh hectares of area under cultivation and the estimated production is pegged at 48 lakh tonnes – 13 per cent up from the 28 lakh tonnes the state normally produces.
Panic selling by farmers had led to the fall in prices, said Ashok Bhutada, head of the Latur-headquartered Kirti Group, which retails edible oil under the Kirti Gold brand. “Instead of selling their produce at one go, growers should sell them in batches, so that the supply pressure on the wholesale markets remains intact,” he said.
Bhutada, however, said prices were likely to firm up in the near future. He said the fall of Indian rupee to the US dollar would make the export of deoiled cake more lucrative for India, as it would increase the price parity in the international market as compared to the US DOC. DOC is the name given to the protein-rich mass left after extraction of oil from the beans.On an average, India exports 10-11 lakh tonnes of DOC, which is expected to go up significantly this year.