The Maharashtra government has clamped down on errant agricultural traders by proposing a law to jail them for a year if they fail to pay the minimum support prices for crops
The Maharashtra government has clamped down on errant agricultural traders by proposing a law to jail them for a year if they fail to pay the minimum support prices (MSP) for crops. Such non-compliance will also attract a penalty of Rs 50,000, according to the amendments proposed to the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce and Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act, 1963.
The move has raised the trading community’s hackles, which is threatening to close down the agricultural produce market committee (APMC) mandis. Currently, there are 16 crops that get the benefit of MSPs in the state, mainly grains, pulses and some cash crops.
While the market in Jalna was shut on Thursday with traders protesting against the decision, APMCs in Latur, Akola, Washim, Barshi and parts of Nashik including Lasalgaon remained open on Friday after the chairmen of the APMCs managed to convince traders to continue work since the notification is yet to come out.
Lalitbhai Shah, chairman, Latur APMC, said: “I am not aware of what will happen on Monday when the market reopens. Traders here had refused to operate on Friday but agreed to trade after I placated them. Jalna remained closed on Thursday.
The Akola (APMC mandi) chairman got in touch with me on this issue seeking advice. The situation is similar in Washim, Barshi and most APMCs that deal with commodities that fall under the MSP category.”
Most pulses are now trading below MSPs, Shah said. The MSP of moong, for instance, is Rs 7,000 per quintal while it is trading at Rs 5,700 per quintal. Traders argue that the government should strengthen its procurement system before taking such a decision. If traders will refuse to buy, the farmer will have no place to sell, they said.
Nitin Kalantri, a major pulse trader in Latur region and president of the Dal Millers Association, said: “The trader is also an important stakeholder in any APMC. Of late, however, he is being treated as an exploiter.”
A senior government official said if there is a dispute with regard to MSP, the farmer can approach the grievance cell of the APMC.