For procurement, the state agency needs registration by farmers. (File)
Against the backdrop of a massive farmers’ agitation against perceived government abdication of its responsibility on Minimum Support Price (MSP) assurance, the Centre has granted permission to Maharashtra to procure 25 per cent of the total arhar production.
While arhar procurement by the state is an annual occurrence, the permission for the process normally takes about three weeks. “We got the permission within two days this time,” Principal Secretary (Marketing) Anoop Kumar told The Indian Express.
Kumar added, “We will be starting procurement at 187 centres from January 20 at MSP of Rs 6,000 per quintal.” The MSP of Rs 6,000 is by far the highest for arhar, up from Rs 5,800 in 2019-20.
“The procurement is done every year under the Price Support Scheme of the Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan for various crops. Usually, the procurement starts in February every year but this year, we are starting early due to early harvest,” said Kumar.
Under the scheme, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation procures 25 per cent of the total produce through a state agency, in this case the Maharashtra State Cooperative Agricultural Marketing Federation. After that, the procurement, if necessary, is done by the state agency, with the state government footing the bill.
“This year, the 25 per cent threshold is expected to be 28,90,500 quintals. So we are preparing to procure that initially,” said Kumar.
The government, however, feels that it may not have to purchase major quantities since the price for arhar is currently about Rs 6,200 in the markets of Udgir and Latur. “The market arrivals in Vidarbha are yet to start substantially. That is where most of the procurement may have to be done, provided the market price hovers below MSP,” Kumar added.
For procurement, the state agency needs registration by farmers. “Within a week, about 18,000 farmers have already registered,” said Kumar.
Arhar procurement was highest, 61,29,092 quintals, in 2016-17, when prices had slumped well below the MSP of Rs 5,050. In 2017-18, the government had purchased 26,22,507 quintals since open market rates continued to remain below Rs 4,000 per quintal.
But in 2018-19, the procurement was only 2,83,731 quintals since the open market rates ranged between Rs 5,200 and Rs 6,000 against the MSP of Rs 5,675. In 2019-20, the procurement rose again to 10,83,452 quintals.