Maharashtra Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said the state government plans to approach the Centre with a recommendation to make Minimum Support Prices (MSP) mandatory across all states to ensure uniformity and prevent traders from purchasing from states where market prices are lower than MSP.
Maharashtra Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said the state government plans to approach the Centre with a recommendation to make Minimum Support Prices (MSP) mandatory across all states to ensure uniformity and prevent traders from purchasing from states where market prices are lower than MSP. Traders’ representatives would meet on September 10 to sort out the issue.
Traders in Maharashtra have been on protest against a proposed amendment by the government, according to which a trader is liable to be punished with a one-year jail term and a fine of `50,000 if he purchases agri-commodities from farmers at rates below MSP.
Under the existing provision, the licence of the trader can be either cancelled or suspended and traders have kept away from auctions fearing action.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 closed with traders stating that they are not in a position to make purchases at MSP from farmers since market prices are much lower.
The Minister stated that some kind of control is necessary to keep trade in check. “The existing provision which states that a trader’s licence can be cancelled if he makes purchase below MSP has been there for a long time. Has anyone heard of a case being filed against traders?” he asked. He cited the example of the sugar industry where the Centre fixed the Minimum Base Price at `29 per kg, adding sugar prices have firmed up since. This situation has occurred because of a bumper production, making it difficult for the farmer to sell. The government stand is that matters can be sorted out through discussion and the government is willing to discuss this with traders.
Latur — one of the biggest pulse producing regions — saw its market continue to be deserted with traders seeking written confirmation from the 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 market auction.
Pandurang Mundada, president of the Grain Seeds and Oil Merchants Association, Latur, said traders have suggested that the market officials should take the produce from farmers under Agriculture Pledge Finance, keep the produce in godowns that would give farmers warehouse receipts and bring these out at the time of government procurement. Latur remained shut on Thursday with neighbouring markets also closing shutters. Baramati, however, reopened on Thursday after the DDR and the chairman issued a note if farmers are unhappy with the rates offered by traders, they can take advantage of the Agriculture Pledge Finance Scheme and keep their produce in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) warehouse for FAQ grade produce. In case of non-FAQ grade produce, farmers should be present at the time of the auction to prevent any legal issues at a later stage, Anil Hiwarkar, chairman of the Baramati, APMC, said.
Walchand Sancheti, president, Federation of Trader Associations (Maharashtra), said a delegation met Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh urging him to look into the issue. A meeting has been slated on September 10 in Mumbai with trader representatives and some kind of clarity may emerge, he said. Meanwhile Latur remained closed and some of the other markets opened and closed in a short while, he said.