Agri Business

Rajasthan farmers forced to sell produce for cheaper rates, say leaders

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on April 21, 2020

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Farmers in many parts of Rajasthan are forced to sell their produce, viz., barley, gram, and mustard at much lower rate than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) as the Central and State governments did not start procurement while allowing mandis to operate, said farmer leaders in the State.

“Normally, Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Rajasthan State Cooperative Marketing Federation commence rabi procurement season on April 15. This time, they have postponed the procurement till May 1, while allowing grain mandis to operate,” said Shopatram Meghwal, a farmer, and a local leader of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) in Srigangangar.

“As the public procurement hasn’t started, private traders are buying the produce at much cheaper rates. While gram, which has an MSP of ₹4,875 per quintal, is bought for ₹3,800-3,850, mustard is being bought at ₹3,700-3,800 a quintal, about ₹700 less than MSP, and barley at ₹1,330 a quintal,” Meghwal said. Similarly, farmers are also forced to sell wheat at lower prices than MSP with delayed procurement.

Delayed procurement

An official with Rajasthan State Co-operative Marketing Federation (Rajfed) admitted that the procurement is delayed by two weeks because of the extra precautions need to be taken in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. While Rajfed procures gram, mustard and wheat, FCI, the central agency, procures wheat from farmers in Sriganganagar region.

“If mandis can be allowed to operate, why can’t the State-owned procurement agencies commence procurement? This is obviously to help traders buy produce at cheaper rates. A large number of small and marginal farmers will have no choice but sell at whatever price they get. Rich farmers can afford to hold their produce till the procurement begins,” said Meghwal, who has written letters to State government officials appraising them of the situation on ground.

Lajpat Khuarana, Assistant Director, Agriculture marketing at Sriganganagar APMC, said all three APMC mandis in the district have started functioning from April 10. “We allow 10 farmers per day to come to a trader for selling barley and mustard. Farmers can bring one trolley which can carry 60 or 70 quintals,” Khurana said.

Arrivals trend

While admitting that mustard farmers are getting lower prices than MSP, he said only limited quantity of the oilseed is coming to the market. Arrivals of barley, which is not procured at MSP by any agency, however, are good. More than 1 lakh quintals of the coarse cereal has already been sold in Ganganagar mandi.

The AIKS leader also pointed out another game that the State government is playing with the farmers. Ostensibly, the government has increased the quantity of gram and mustard being procured at MSP rates from farmers to 40 quintals from 25 quintals last year. According to him, the government tweaked the conditions in such a way that most farmers in the region will be able to sell less to the procurement agency. “Earlier, each farming individual who has land in his or her name could sell 25 quintals to Rajfed. But now, it is counting a farmer family as one unit. As a result, a farmer will eventually able to sell less produce at MSP rates,” he said.

Echoing the same sentiments was Yudhvir Singh, General Secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union in Chittor. “By the time, the procurement agencies start procuring from farmers, all small and marginal farmers will have nothing left to sell as they have a lot of expenses including preparing the field for the next crop. The government cannot delay procurement as per their wish,” Singh said.

Published on April 21, 2020

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