The government of Maharashtra has said that the procurement of tur (arhar) shall be continued despite the state having crossed procurement targets. However, procurement in several government purchase centres has slowed down for want of storage space. With the festival of Holi coming up, many procurement centres are reported to be turning away the farmers. According to market sources, procurement has stopped in several places in Vidarbha, Hingoli, Akola and parts of Latur. Although tur prices have picked up marginally from R4200-4300 per quintal to R4600-4700 per quintal, farmers are still finding it difficult to sell their produce.
Maharashtra cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh told FE that the government would continue to extend the procurement programme beyond March 15. The government plans to purchase another 6 lakh quintals, he said. The state has already purchased a record 17 lakh quintals this season. Maharashtra has seen a bumper crop this season resulting in the prices spiralling downwards. In view of the increased arrival, 293 procurement centres have been opened, the minister stated.
Maharashtra is one of the major tur-producing states in the country and tur dal production in the state is estimated to be at 11.71 lakh metric tonne in 2016 against 4.4 lakh metric tonne the previous year. The area under tur cultivation also rose (15.33 lakh hectares against 12.37 lakh hectares) for the same period. The MSP for tur dal is R5,050 per quintal but farmers are getting only R4,200-4,300 per quintal, prompting them to raise their concerns to the government.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had recently called a review meeting where a decision was taken to continue procurement, Deshmukh said, adding that the government agencies have been directed to take up small godowns of 50 quintals on lease so that that there are no issues in procurement. However, traders and market officials says that procurement centres are unable to purchase more than 1,000-1,500 quintals. In Latur, for instance the market will remain closed from March 12 to March 17 on account of Holi and even though the market arrivals are the tune of 10,000 quintals a day, the purchase is still slow, according to Lalit Shah, chairman, Latur agricultural produce market committee (APMC) said.
He added that if the tur prices improve by R100 per quintal, farmers will not need to go to procurement centres since the MSP is R5,050 and prevailing prices are in the range of R4,700 per quintal. However, if the prices fall by R 100 per quintal then all depends on the government’s procurement programme, Shah said. Hukumchand Kalantry, president, Latur Dal Millers Association said that the even if the government purchases around 75 lakh quintals, the real question would arise what the government intends to do with the procurement. Tur lasts for 6-8 months and therefore a long term policy is required for ensuring farmers also benefit. Kalantry felt that the government should remove stockholding limits, impose import duties and encourage export.
Indian Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) has earlier proposed removal of export bans on pulses to enable the farmers to get an additional source of revenue, apart from selling in the domestic market and level out spikes and troughs. “Permitting export of pulses will reduce the number of farmers moving production of pulses to other remunerative crops. Increased domestic production will also have a subsequent impact on the prices of pulses, impacting the consumers (both in terms of protein nourishment and household budgets),” IPGA had said.