In a bid to curb spike in prices of agricultural commodities, the Centre has asked states to take several measures, including delisting pulses and other items from the ambit of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) and removal of local taxes on their trade.
In a communication to state chief secretaries, consumer affairs secretary Hem Pande has also urged states to create robust information management system on commodities’ prices, production, availability, unscrupulous trading, hoarding, etc, besides strengthening of storage facilities for pulses, vegetables, edible oilseeds, onions for ensuring availability of the essential food items through real time market intervention.
“Review of APMC Acts to delist pulses and other essential food items to allow farmers to sell their produce at any place of their choice, minimise stages of supply chain from farm gate to ultimate consumers and fetch better price by farmers,” the communication from the Centre to states has stated. It also stated that removal of local taxes on essential food items like pulses, edible oilseeds, vegetables would help reduce the retail prices of these commodities.
The Centre also urged states to implement the Price Stabilisation Fund Scheme to ensure real time market intervention by the state to enhance availability and check prices of essential commodities in the open market directly to the ultimate consumers. It urged states to create a dedicated police force under the Essential Commodities Act, on the lines of Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Crime Investigation Department, for effective operations against hoarders, black-marketeers, profiteers,unscrupulous traders and speculators of essential commodities.
The pulses’ retail prices have been rising despite several government measures such as imposition of stock holding limits on traders, creation of buffer stock up to 20 lakh tonne and ban on chana dal futures in the commodity bourse NCDEX.
Due to gap between production and consumption, the prices of urad dal recently had reached as high as Rs 200 per kg in the retail market while that of tur had reached Rs 170 per kg. The consumer affairs ministry had asked states to sell pulses at R120 a kg to retail consumers from the pulses procured by central agencies like Food Corporation of India, Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium and farmers cooperative Nafed for the buffer stocks.
At present, the Centre has been allocating states unmilled tur dar at R66 a kg and urad at R88 a kg to states for supplies to retail consumers. “The states are expected to process and sell the pulses at not more than R120 a kg,” an official told FE.