A day after traders in Maharashtra agreed to resume wholesale trading operations and participate in auctions following a meeting held in Pune with the members of the federation across the state, majority of the traders continued to keep away from markets stating that they were not in a position to make commodity purchases at the minimum support prices (MSP) from farmers.
Traders in Maharashtra have been protesting against the state government’s decision to amend the existing APMC Act to make purchases below the MSP from farmers punishable with a one-year jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000.
While there has been no government resolution, commodities markets across the state have been deserted for the past week with traders keeping away from business. At the federation meeting in Pune, most traders did not agree with the resolution passed by the federation to resume trade from Tuesday and demanding scrapping of the amendment and the provisions in the existing Act that stipulate that trader licences could be suspended or canceled if purchases are made below the MSP.
On Tuesday,Grain Seeds and Oil Merchants Association ( GSOMA) in Latur – one of the key regions that deals in pulses – submitted a letter to the chairman of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) informing him that they were not in a position to make purchases at the MSP since market prices are much lower. As a result, no trade took place at Latur on Tuesday. Similarly, almost all the neighbouring APMCs including Baramati, Barshi, Osmanabad, Mumum, Udgir and Ahmednagar remained closed with local trader associations submitting similar letters to the respective APMCs. Most commodities including tur, moong, chana and soybean are trading below the MSP with soybean being near the MSP mark.
Pandurang Mundada, president of the Association, pointed out that in neighbouring Karnataka pulses were available at Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per quintal lower than the MSP, which makes it difficult for traders to purchase at MSP at Latur.
Lalitbhai Shah, president of Latur APMC, said that the meeting of traders with the federation members in Pune had failed and traders had come back upset with the resolution passed by the Federation members.
Federation members in Pune had suggested that traders across the state should purchase at MSP for a month although the market prices are much lower and this was not acceptable to most traders, he said. Shah said the traders are demanding a letter from the DDR demanding an undertaking against any penal action and he had accordingly informed the marketing directorate officials about this issue. “I will make a last attempt on Wednesday morning and hold a meeting with the traders and, accordingly a decision will be taken,” he said.
Anand Jogdand, director, agricultural marketing, said that he has already issued a notification reiterating that no such GR has been passed by the state Cabinet and therefore it was not right on the part of traders to protest in this manner. He directed that market operations should be resumed with immediate effect.
Jogdand said that no one had been in touch with him about this issue and it is wrong on part of the traders to demand a written undertaking from the DDRs. No direction has been issued by the state government on this issue, he added.
Walchand Sancheti, president, Federation of Associations of Traders (Maharashtra), stated that traders in most pulse trading regions have not resumed operations yet for the fear of action against them and markets at Latur, Barshi, Ahmednagar and Baramati were closed on Tuesday. It is wrong on the part of the government to expect traders to purchase at MSP when Nafed is selling tur (arhar) below the MSP.
The government should introduce the Bhavantar Bhugtan Yojana on the lines of the Madhya Pradesh government scheme wherein the difference in the MSP rates and market prices could be credited by the government into the farmers’ accounts, he added.