The Maharashtra Government is working on a model to enable farmers fetch Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their produce in the open market, for which work on necessary infrastructure and investment is under way, said Maharashtra State Commission for Agriculture Cost and Prices Chairman Pasha Patel.
Patel further said, “At the outset, let me make it abundantly clear that there is no question of enforcing any law to punish any trader for non-compliance with MSP. Instead, we are working with the Centre to create a mechanism that will enable farmers get MSP in the open market. Necessary infrastructure and support system will be built. It will create competitive markets, ending the current market monopoly in the agriculture sector.”
He said that when farmers are provided better open market options for their produce, they will oppose the current monopoly and exploitation and eventually, traders will have to buy the produce at MSP. While indicating that measures in the direction are already been taken, Patel said, “Import duty on chana (cereal) has been raised from zero to 70 percent; matar (chickpea) from zero to 80 percent.”
Now, we plan to focus on these non-MSP crops to ensure better income for farmers. The model will help farmers in the tribal and backward districts.”The MSP for 2018-19 listed for scheduled crops are as follows: paddy Rs 1,750; jowar Rs 2,430; bajra Rs 1,950; maize Rs 1,700; ragi Rs 2,897; arhar (tur) Rs 5,675; moong Rs 6,975; urad Rs 5,600; cotton Rs 5,150; groundnut Rs 4,890; sunflower Rs 5,388, soyabean Rs 3,399; Niger Seed Rs 5,877; wheat Rs 1,735; barley Rs 1,410; gram Rs 4,400; masoor (lentil) Rs 4,250; rapeseed (mustard) Rs 4,000; copra Rs 7,511.
Sugarcane is another cash crop which fetches fair remuneration price (FRP).The state accounts for 30 percent of horticulture produce, the highest in the country. It also accounts for almost 25 percent vegetables, largely ignored when it comes to pricing mechanism. Patel said, “Take the example of ‘amchoor’, made in the tribal belt of Nandurbar and Dhule districts. The tribal farmers earn pittance. But it has a potential market both within and outside the state.”
Edible oil has seen import duty raised five times in a year. Higher import duty on tur (yellow dal) has helped both farmers and the domestic market. Patel, however, said compensating the price difference between crops sold in the market and MPS to farmers is not practical. “Madhya Pradesh, which adopted the model under ‘bhavantar bhugtan yojna’ (price compensation scheme), has failed.
The MP government, which announced the scheme, had to withdraw it. It was financially not viable,” he said. Of the total 1.37 crore farmers in Maharashtra, almost 78 percent are in the small and marginal category. The state ranks tenth in average size of operational land holding (1.44 hectares) in the country as per the agriculture census 2010-11. Patel said, “Apart from the crops listed under MSP, there are others, short-term and seasonal crops, which make up a Rs 20,000-crore market.