The minimum support price (MSP) of tur (arhar) dal is ₹6,000/quintal in Maharashtra. But tur, or pigeonpea, is currently trading at ₹9,000 in the open market and farmers are more than happy to sell their produce to traders.
In Hingoli, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) is finding it difficult to procure soya as farmers are going to traders offering a higher rate than the MSP. Protection of the MSP is at the core of the protests launched by farmers against three farm Bills passed by Parliament. While farmers in some States are protesting to protect the MSP, a section of farmers in Maharashtra wants to get rid of it.
MSP weakens farmers
Members of the Shetkari Sanghatana, the apex body of farmers in Maharashtra formed by the late Sharad Joshi, wants the market to play its role to decide the prices of agri commodities; it contends that the MSP has actually weakened farmers, instead of empowering them. The Sanghatana is planning an agitation demanding that the government give freedom to farmers and stop intervening in the agri commodity market so that farmers will not have to depend on MSP.
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“I am sure that as the rates of tur are climbing and farmers are getting a good price for their produce, the government will take steps to import tur and bring down market rates. This will force farmers to go back to government procurement centres. While the government has allowed the market to play a full-fledged role in other sectors, why discriminate with farmers?” said Shetkari Sanghatana member Madhu Harne.
According to a senior field representative of NAFED, “It is a fact that the majority of farmers (in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions) are selling their produce to private players as they are getting a better price. Also, there are rules and regulations about the quality of farm produce procured by government agencies and farmers don’t get payment on the spot. In the open market, they sell the produce and get cash.”
Shetkari Sanghatana president Anil Ghanwat added, “Traders are buying tur at ₹9,000/quintal because there is demand in the market and consumers are buying tur at even higher prices. The MSP draws farmers to grow a particular crop for years and they don’t want to come out of the shell and experiment. Farmers will not be able to become financially strong if they depend on the MSP. They will have to compete in the open market.”
While MSP for tur dal is ₹6,000/quintal in Maharashtra, it trades at ₹9,000 in the open market