The Centre has granted extension to the Maharashtra government for procurement of tur (arhar) under the Price Support Scheme (PSS) up to May 15 for the kharif season of 2017-18. Until April 18, the government has procured some 25.45 lakh quintals from the key producing regions of the state and has met nearly 65% of its target which has been set at 44.67 lakh quintals from February 1. According to officials, the government began a registration drive for farmers on January 19 and some 4,57,833 farmers have registered themselves in the drive, of which tur remains to be purchased from 25,3816 farmers. Around 34.70 lakh quintals of tur remains to be procured. Along with the bonus, the MSP of tur comes up to `5,450 per quintal.
The total amount of purchase comes up to `1,387 crore, of which dues of `559 crore have been paid to farmers, the officials said.
Tur procurement was stopped in some parts of the state because of lack of storage space. Maharashtra cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh, in a recent meeting, had instructed officials of the State Warehousing Corporation to use private godowns for storing the tur dal purchased from farmers, if necessary. The ongoing procurement of tur from farmers should not be hindered on the pretext of unavailability of godowns, he had warned. Small-size private godowns with storage capacity of less than 1,000 tonnes should be preferred, the minister said. Tur in Maharashtra has declined to `4,200 per quintal while in Madhya Pradesh it ruled at `3,800-3,900 per quintal.
According to Ajit Relekar, Joint MD, Maharashtra State Warehousing Corporation (MSWC), the Corporation, along with the Central Warehousing Corporation, is making provisions for the storage of tur near the procurement centres. Tur purchase was stopped in between and the Warehousing Corporation had then made arrangements for storage of 6 lakh quintals, he said.
At present, some 60,000 tonne is available with the Corporation for storage and we are reaching to private warehouses for creating more space, he said. Advertisements have been floated for both additional space and manpower required for the process, he said. Relekar said that a committee has been established to look into the issue and a report is expected to be submitted to the government in a couple of days.
According to senior officials, the minister had also issued instructions for the sale of soybean, moong and chana procured during the previous season. A couple of weeks ago, procurement was stopped in Amravati, Buldhana and Akola regions of the state since the warehouses were already full with pulses procured during the previous season.
Moreover, this season, the government had also procured soybean, moong and udid which also took up space, the official had pointed out. The State Marketing Federation has been appointed as the sub-agent of Nafed for tur purchase in the state. Last year, a record 75 lakh quintals of tur was purchased by the Centre and states as part of procurement operations.
Tur procurement in the state came under scrutiny with the Maharashtra State Marketing Federation’s General Manager (GM) Anil Deshmukh being suspended recently over irregularities in the tur dal milling tenders. Meanwhile, in the current season of 2017-18, chana production has gone up to a record 110 lakh tonne, going up by 20-25 lakh tonne as compared to the previous season. Because of a good season last year and imports, the buffer stock across the country is also large.
A target of 30 lakh quintals has been set for the purchase of harbara (chana) at MSP, of which 20,7792 quintals have already been procured, officials of the agricultural department said.
Some 1,11,249 farmers have been registered for the chana procurement drive and some 96,222 farmers remain from whom chana has to be procured. The government owes farmers `91.43 crore and is yet to begin payments, officials said.