Maharashtra crop crisis: Farmers’ response to chana procurement remains poor

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Published: March 26, 2019 1:52:12 AM

Market sources said that farmers prefer selling it to traders at lower prices as the guarantee of getting money is less under the MSP scheme.

This year, total sowing is done on around 96.60 lakh hectares, which is equal to the average sowing of the country, but less than last year’s 107.57 lakh hectares.

Even as the government’s procurement of chana under the minimum support price (MSP) commenced from Monday, farmers’ response to online registration has been very poor.

Senior government officials said that farmers are yet to receive money from the government for tur sold in the last season and therefore the response has been very poor this time. Market sources said that farmers prefer selling it to traders at lower prices as the guarantee of getting money is less under the MSP scheme. Chana prices are currently ruling at Rs 4,100 to Rs 4,300 per quintal while the MSP has been fixed at Rs 4,620 per quintal.

National Cooperative Agricultural Marketing Federation (NAFED) and Vidarbha Co-operative Marketing Federation have been appointed as the main agents for procurement from 33 districts.

Maharashtra cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh had earlier said that government has directed all the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC) in the state not to allow sale of chana below the MSP. The market committees instead have been told to create awareness among farmers and encourage them to opt for the pledge financing scheme that offers 75% advance to farmers at a low interest of 0.5%, he said. The farmers can then sell chana when the prices firm up. Market committees now have the power to cancel licences of traders for purchase below the MSP, he said.

Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Akola and Buldhana districts are major gram-growing areas of Maharashtra. The state has reported 13.13 lakh hectare of chana acreage compared to 19.77 lakh hectare last year. The acreage had come down this year due to moisture stress from the drought. In addition to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are other major producers of pulses. Farmers in Latur, Parbhani and other parts of Marathwada have reported low per acre yields. So, instead of 8-10 quintal per acre yield, farmers in these parts have reported at least 2-3 quintal per acre yield.

Last year, NAFED had effectively procured 27.24 lakh tonne chana of which 19.60 lakh tonne remains unsold. With the NAFED also offloading its stock, farmers are in distress. Chana, a major rabi crop sown during the October-November period is harvested in February and March.

This year, total sowing is done on around 96.60 lakh hectares, which is equal to the average sowing of the country, but less than last year’s 107.57 lakh hectares. Total pulse sowing covered approximately 156.30 lakh hectares, less than last year’s 166.11 lakh hectares. Harvesting has started in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, with arrivals taking off in the mandis.

Officials said that response from farmers for tur is also poor. In Latur, one of the key pulse producing regions in the state, tur prices ranged between Rs 5,100 and Rs 5,300 per quintal. Latur and Akola are major wholesale markets. This season, there are reports of a 50% reduction in the tur crop because of drought in the state.

Officials from the state marketing department felt that the wholesale prices would soon cross the government mandated MSP and thus they might not meet the target of procurement for the season. Latur, Amravati, Jalgaon, Udgir, Akola and regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha are the main tur growing areas.

In 2017, the overproduction of tur became a cause of concern for farmers. Consequently, in the next season, farmers cut down on tur sowing. Around 6,180 farmers have registered online for the government’s procurement scheme under the MSP at the centres established at Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli districts.

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