Chana farmers in Maharashtra seem to have turned their backs on the government’s Minimum Support Price procurement programme. The state has recorded its lowest procurement till date with barely 1,700 tonne under the Centre’s Price Support Scheme (PSS). This marks the second year in which chana growers have failed to sell their produce at government-announced Minimum Selling Price (MSP) of Rs 4,620 per quintal.
Since prices are ruling below MSP, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) had announced the procurement of 2.5 lakh tonne of chana in the state. Three agencies — the Vidarbha Cooperative Marketing Federation, the Maharashtra Cooperative Marketing Federation (MarkFed) and the MahaFPC — are part of the procurement at ground level. Data released by NAFED shows that till April 15, the state has seen the procurement of 1,671.15 tonne from 1,560 farmers.
MahaFPC has been able to purchase barely 26.25 tonne of chana from 21 farmers from three procurement centres. In contrast, the purchase programme has been more successful in Telangana, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In Telangana, the government procured 34,500 tonne chana from 21,833 farmers. In Rajasthan, 6,870 tonne was bought from 3,598 farmers and in Madhya Pradesh, 2,357 tonne was procured from 1,209 farmers.
Since farmers are yet to be paid for last year’s crop, they are turning a blind eye to the scheme this time, according to market reports. Chana is an important rabi crop in both Vidarbha and Marathwada. In most markets in the state, chana is being traded at Rs 4,300-4,400 per quintal.
Lalitbhai Shah, chairman, Latur Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), which is one of the key pulse producing regions in Maharashtra, said farmers would prefer to sell to traders at lower prices since they get the money almost immediately in a couple of days as opposed to government schemes where they have to wait for months together to get their money.
Moreover, with the polls in full swing, government officials seem to be slow with paperwork and this has delayed the process.
Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Akola and Buldhana districts are the major chana-growing areas of Maharashtra. The state has reported 13.13 lakh hectare acreage compared to 19.77 lakh hectare last year. The acreage had come down this year due to moisture stress from the drought. In addition to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are other major producers of pulses.