Even as the government of Maharashtra is sending its top officials to the national capital to follow up on its proposal to the Centre for the procurement of moong and urad under the government’s Minimum Support Price ( MSP) scheme, farmers have begun distress sales. Maharashtra cooperation minister Subhash Deshmukh said the Centre’s permission is expected over the next two to three days, failing which the state government may have to take its own decision. Farmers in the key pulses growing regions of Maharashtra have begun selling moong and urad at distress prices way below the Minimum Support Price (MSP) since a major portion of the produce has been damaged because of the recent rains. The government, meanwhile, has issued circulars to most agriculture produce market committees ( APMCs) in the state, directing them not to allow farmers to sell below MSP.
The minister said that farmers have been directed to take advantage of the state’s Commodity Mortgage Scheme where farmers can keep their produce and are issued warehousing receipts at interest and are allowed to sell after prices improve. Tur, moong, urad, soyabean, sunflower, gram, rice (paddy), jowar, bajra, maize, wheat, cashew and turmeric are included in the scheme of farm merchandise. Under this scheme, 75% of the total value of the pledged land in the market committee warehouse gets 6% interest for six months. According to Hukumchand Kalantry, president, Latur Dal Millers Association and a major pulse trader based out of Latur, a key pulses growing region in the state, the recent rains arrived when these pulses were being harvested and caused damage. “Most states including Rajasthan have begun harvesting moong and urad at the same time, causing a glut in the market. Moreover, the rains caused damage because of which the farmer can’t hold onto his crop,” he said.
Currently, the crop harvest season has begun in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. Moong is selling at a minimum of Rs 3,900 per quintal and a maximum of Rs 5,200 per quintal while urad is selling at a minimum of Rs 4,000 per quintal and a maximum of Rs 5,200 per quintal. The MSP of moong is Rs 5,575 per quintal while that of urad is Rs 5,450 per quintal. Lalit Shah, chairman, Latur APMC agreed and said that the produce has been damaged in the rain and most of the urad is being sold in the South for use in the restaurant industry. Very poor quality urad is being sold for Rs 3,000 per quintal because the cover has been damaged and the grain has been discoloured. Same is the case with moong where the cover has lost its shine, he said, adding that APMCs have been issued letters directing them not to sell moong and urad below MSP. However, it becomes difficult to explain these things to the farmer who just wants to sell his produce at any price, he pointed out. Market committees have been directed to register the pulses coming to the market on paper but no instructions have been issued as to when these will be procured by the government, he pointed out.