Traders in Maharashtra Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) will be given enough cash to ensure that they can pay farmers in cash, Kishore Tiwari, chairman of the Special Task Force appointed by the Maharashtra government to address agrarian issues, said. He however did not specify how much cash would be given to traders.
After a meeting held in Mumbai with top government officials on Thursday, Tiwari said, a decision has been taken to give traders enough liquidity in hand. APMCs in Maharashtra have been observing shutdown for more that a week since the Centre’s demonetisation move.
Tiwari said farmers in the state will now be allowed to buy seeds with their old currency notes of R500 and R1,000 at MahaBeej and the National Seed Corporation till November 24.
A meeting was held at the Mantralaya with principal secretary Pravin Pardeshi and other government officials in which measures were discussed to ease woes of the farmers. Farmers are in a crisis since they cannot buy seeds. But this should not affect the sowing operations, he said.
A decision was also taken to give traders enough liquidity in APMCs. Tiwari said that banks have been directed to ensure that traders are given enough cash in hand so that they can make payments to farmers subject to the condition that they submit records of such payments to the APMC and the banks.
An RBI circular banning district central co-operative banks from accepting old currency has hit Kharif farmers who were looking to pay off their crop loan dues with the now-defunct notes, thus affecting recovery worth R12,000 crore across the state. Farmers who sold their Kharif produce were mostly paid in cash by wholesale traders. Now, the amount with farmers (mostly in denominations of R1,000 and R500) is rendered useless for crop loan payments.
Meanwhile, some wholesale onion markets in Nashik resumed auctions on Thursday with farmers seeking a portion of their payments in cash. At the Pimpalgaon APMC where onion auctions resumed after a gap of nearly a week, farmers demanded atleast R2,000 in cash to tide over their daily requirements.
According to Dilip Bankar, chairman, Pimpalgaon APMC, officials faced a lot of difficulties in running the auctions. Farmers complained that they had no money to purchase diesel and to buy food as well. These farmers come from long distances and therefore need cash for bare necessities, he said.
These markets decided to resume operations after traders agreed to make cashless payments to farmers using the banking system.
On Thursday, the government eased norms for farmers who have taken crop loans or have Kisan Credit Cards to withdraw R25,000 per week. These norms do not apply to trading and farmers who require cash for daily requirements, he pointed out,
Also, farmers who have received payments through RTGS or cheque deposits in KYC-compliant bank accounts can withdraw an additional R25,000 a week. This takes the total cash withdrawal limit for farmers from KYC complaint bank accounts to R50,000 per week.
However, Bankar complained that the farmers who come to markets to sell their produce do not benefit and still require some cash in hand. Arrivals at the Pimpalgaon were to the tune of 17,190 quintals and farmers were given payments in the form of cheque or through banking transactions.
At Chandwad APMC, arrivals were to the tune of 11000 quintals and farmers were given cheque payments. Atmaram Kumbharde, chairman of the APMC claimed that farmers will not make a fuss if they get payments in their bank.
Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, said that there will be practical difficulties in ensuring smooth functioning of auctions.