The Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets across Maharashtra continue to wear a deserted look with traders busy in a flurry of meetings over the decision to restart auctions.
Markets in Latur, Barshi, Baramati, Ahmednagar and several other regions did not see any trading activity with traders demanding clarity on issue of MSP purchase from farmers.
Wholesale markets in Maharashtra that are dealing in commodities related to MSP – mainly pulses and grains – have remained shut for the past week with traders boycotting auctions. Traders have been protesting against the state Cabinet’s decision to penalise purchases by traders at rates below the MSP with one-year jail term in addition to a hefty fine of `50,000.
Following an assurance given by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis that no coercive action will be taken against traders, they agreed to restart operations from Tuesday but several markets remained shut with traders stating that they are not in a position to make purchases at the MSP from farmers since market prices are much lower.
The Grain Seeds and Oil Merchants Association (GSOMA) in Latur – one of the key regions that deals in pulses – held a meeting with traders on Wednesday and decided to seek a written assurance from the APMC chairman, secretary and district deputy registrar (DDR) that traders shall not be responsible for any complaint with regard to prices from any farmer who comes to sell his agri-produce at the auction.
The letter will be submitted to the chairman on Thursday.
In Baramati, the Baramati Merchants Association has submitted a representation to the chairman of the market committee stating that the market committee should publish an advertisement clarifying the entire issue so that traders are not considered as villains. Since the prices are dictated by demand and supply position in the market, the traders are not in a position to make purchases at the MSP since commodity prices of pulses and cereals are much lower than the MSP, said Mahavir Shah, president, Baramati Merchants Association.
According to him, in case of FAQ grade commodities, if the traders are not in a position to make purchases, the market committee should step in and take the produce under the Agriculture Pledge Financing Scheme and give the farmers warehousing reciepts in return. The market committee should follow it up with the state government for procurement at the MSP and traders will be willing to restart operations on these conditions, he said.
As far as non-FAQ grade produce is concerned, the market committee should provide a grading officer who should be present at the time of the auction and the farmer should be personally present at the time of the auction so that no complaints are entertained later, he said. Traders at Baramati are willing to restart operations with these riders, he said. Other markets witnessed similar demands from traders.
Walchand Sancheti, president, Federation of Trader Associations (Maharashtra), said that the mood among the traders is still not positive and they are seeking written assurances from the market committees. Markets at Latur, Barshi, Baramati, and Ahmednagar remained closed, he said, adding that the federation will approach Subhash Deshmukh, minister for cooperation and marketing, for clarity on the issue.
The government should introduce the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana on the lines of the Madhya Pradesh government scheme wherein the difference in the MSP rates and market prices could be credited by the government into the farmers’ accounts, he said.