The Maharashtra State Cooperative Marketing Federation has decided to stop the online registration for purchase of tur at its centres from April 18. Yogesh Mhashe, managing director of the federation, said the federation would be able to meet the assigned target of 4.4 lakh tonnes (lt) of tur and the decision was taken accordingly.
The wholesale prices of tur in Maharashtra has been trading below the government specified Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 5,400 per quintal. As against the 14.36 lakh hectares (lh) of tur area reported in the state in 2016-17, Maharashtra had seen only about 12.28 lh of tur cultivation 2017-18. The reduced cultivation area failed to firm up the prices as the average trading price of tur in most of the markets in the state was around Rs 4,250 per quintal. It is estimated that the total losses faced by tur farmers in the state is around Rs 1,067 crore.
In view of the low prices, both the Vidarbha Cooperative Marketing Federation as well as the Maharashtra State Marketing Federation had started over 180 procurement centres. Farmers could sell their produce at these centres at MSP. Farmers were asked to get prior registration done and would be told to bring their produce on specified dates and the payments were made online.
Maintaining that enough farmers had already been registered, Mhashe said, “We shall be able to meet our quota and thus new registrations will be stopped.” The bigger worry for the federation is that 2.2 lakh tonnes of tur is lying in the godowns of the federation. The tur was purchased by the federation during 2016-17 when the prices of the lentil had collapsed. The federation had purchased around 2.5 lakh tonnes of the produce from the farmers.
“At present, our priority is to offload this tur and we have taken several steps to do so,” he said. Tenders have been floated for daal mills to lift the tur, mill it and sell the daal. In return, the daal mills were allowed to keep the residue, which has value as cattle feed. It might be remembered that the Leader of Opposition, Dhananjay Munde, had made allegations of corruption in the process, following which a senior officer of the federation was suspended by the state government.
Markets in turmoil
Markets in north Maharashtra are facing an unprecedented traders’ strike as the Dondaicha Market Committee has decided to suspend the licence of traders who were allegedly procuring chana below MSP. Traders in retaliation have decided to suspend their business. While the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act does specify procurement below MSP as wrong and mandates action against traders, there are very few instances when such action has been taken.