Maharashtra Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh and Pasha Patel, chairman, State Commission for Agriculture and Prices, have approached Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan and minister of state for agriculture Gajendra Shekhawat to seek an extension for the procurement of tur (arhar) after the state failed to meet its procurement targets for the second time this season.
May 15 was the last date of procurement in Maharashtra after which tonne of tur was seen lying outside the procurement centres in key pulse producing regions of the state. Farmers cannot take back their produce and the centres have been shut. The Centre has granted permission to Maharashtra for the purchase of 44.60 lakh quintals of tur from February 1. The state government has now sought another extension for procurement until June 30. Patel, who is in Delhi to meet officials of the agriculture ministry said that he is hopeful of getting another extension from the Centre.
“Union minister Radha Mohan assured us of an extension after we impressed upon the urgency of procuring tur from the farmers who had registered in the procurement drive. They cannot take their produce back and the procurement centres are shut,” he said.
“The second extension granted by the Centre was of not much use since the storage space could not be arranged. The private warehouses are only willing to store 1.50 lakh tonne of tur and that too give us only a part of their storage space,” he pointed out. Despite a revised deadline, the state could manage to procure only 31 lakh tonne of the produce from 2 lakh farmers, leaving over 2 lakh more without any hopes.
According to industry people, storage continues to remain an issue with warehouses remaining full. Some 90 warehouses in Nanded, Parbhani and Hingoli districts are packed while 18 private godowns have been taken on lease. State government officials claim around 30% of the targets are yet to be met while market sources put the figure at 60%.
This is the second time the state has failed to meet the deadline and procure 44.70 lakh quintals of tur, the target for procurement under the Price Support Scheme (PSS). Maharashtra has seen good tur production for the past two years. The Centre has decided to import 15 lakh tonne of tur leaving another question mark over the fate of farmers. Farmers are holding a stock of nearly 60 lakh quintal with them, as prices have fallen far below the minimum support price. To add to this, another 100 lakh quintals of tur is estimated to be with various government agencies.