Amid the huge furore over procurement of tur in Maharashtra, Mahafed — Maharashtra Federation of Farmer Producer Companies — is quietly preparing ground for the procurement of chana ( gram or desi chickpea) under the Centre’s Price Stabilisation Scheme. Chana will be procured at the village level through Farmer Producer Companies ( FPCs) directly from the farmer and this is part of the Centre’s move to create a buffer stock of pulses of 1 million tonne. While tur prices have crashed to an all time low of Rs 3950 per quintal in key pulse growing regions of Maharashtra, chana prices are at Rs 5,600-6,000 per quintal , way above the season’s minimum support price of Rs 4,000 a quintal.
According to Yogesh Thorat, MD, MahaFPC, while tur was procured by the federation under the Centre’s Price Support Scheme, Chana will be procured under the Price Stabilisation Scheme.
“At a recent meeting held with the authorities of the Small Farmers Agri Business Consortium ( SFAC), since the market rates of chana are above MSP, discussions centred around efforts being taken to gauge location specific prices and initiate a price discovery mechanism. These rates will then be given to the local buyer who will do the purchasing on behalf of the federation,” Thorat said.
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SFAC has a target of procuring some 35,000 tonne of pulses. MahaFed has already collected a database of around 40 FPCs that supply chana and has about 8,000 tonne available with it, Thorat said, adding that the federation is just waiting for the final orders to begin procurement. The federation also plans to post the availability of chana on e-Nam. The federation said it has already met the targets set by SFAC.
The chana production target set by the agriculture ministry is 96 lakh tonne. The crop size last year was lower at 72 lakh tonne because of damage caused by unseasonal rains and hailstorm. Given the satisfactory weather so far and assuming normal conditions in the next two months, there is hope that the chana harvest will touch 85 lakh tonne. In the event, harvest pressure is sure to bring prices down further, according to industry observers.
Meanwhile, after getting a negative response from the Centre, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has announced an additional Rs 1,000 crore to procure tur in the state. Maharashtra has seen bumper production of pulses, especially tur, this year. Till now, the government has procured 4 lakh tonne tur and farmers have another 8 to 9 lakh quintal waiting to be procured, which has led to a serious crisis of procurement, funds for procurement, bags for tur, and measurement of tur.
Maharashtra cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh said that the state would buy tur with Rs 5,050 declared as MSP and the designated state government agencies would procure the tur stocks that had already been registered at the procurement centres as on April 22.
Farmers agitations have begun across the state over the slow response of the government in the procurement of tur forcing the government to step in.
“The state government would take strong action against traders and agents visiting procurement centres to sell their tur. We have asked to do satellite mapping of people who have bought tur in huge quantities. If they fail to show their own tur from their farms, they face strict action,” Deshmukh said.
Despite a five-fold increase in tur dal production, farmers in Maharashtra are being forced to sell their produce to private traders at prices lower than the government’s minimum support price (MSP) as procurement centres have downed shutters after the union government’s deadline for procuring tur ended on April 22. According to the third estimate of Maharashtra’s agriculture commissionerate, the state is estimated to produce 2.35 million tonne of tur dal in 2016-17.