Maize prices crashed this time, repeat feared during basmati, cotton season – chandigarh
The trends during the maize procurement in Punjab that ended recently were not encouraging with the farmers getting nearly 30% less prices for their produce than the last year.
This also resulted in fall in revenues for the state government that gets market fee on the sale of the produce at the grain markets even as there was surge in arrivals this year. Maize was the first crop to reach the mandis after the Centre passed two agriculture sector ordinances in June.
“The prices crashed from Rs 1,500 per quintal last year to Rs 1,100 this time. Market fee and rural development fund collected this year was Rs 1.44 crore against the last year’s Rs 1.84 crore,” HS Brar, a senior Punjab Mandi Board official said.
Even more worrying is the fact that agriculture experts and farmer unions are apprehending a repeat of the trend during the cotton and basmati procurement for which arrivals are expected to start any time.
“The prospects for cotton and basmati are not reassuring since the buyer is apprehensive to enter the market in the wake of the new ordinances,” said BS Rajewal, who heads a faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
“These two crops are not covered under the assured procurement system as is wheat and paddy. Therefore, the prices are governed by the market dynamics. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, and the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, have brought in uncertainty in the trading of agricultural produce,” said a mandi board official.
In 2019, 2.57 lakh tonne maize was purchased from mandis in Punjab while 2.61 lakh tonne produce was procured this time, as per the figures compiled by the mandi board.
Cotton arrivals are expected to begin in mandis soon as the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has fixed October 1 as beginning of the crop purchase schedule.
Rs 5,710 has been fixed as minimum support price (MSP) per bale of cotton against the last year’s Rs 5,450. However, the private buyer who purchased just two-third of harvest paid the farmers an average Rs 3,800 per bale.
Agriculture department officials said they succeeded in increasing the area under cultivation of maize, basmati and cotton and now the next challenge was to fetch good remunerative price for the these crops.
“There is the need to effectively implement the MSP and assured procurement of all crops. The forthcoming procurement of cotton and basmati will be quite crucial,” said Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) vice-chancellor BS Dhillon.
WAIVE LEVIES ON
In a communiqué to chief principal secretary to Punjab chief minister, Suresh Kumar, the Punjab Basmati Exporters Association has demanded waiver of 2% market fee and of rural development fund on the purchase of the aromatic variety of rice.
“If this does not happen, we will not be able to make purchases in the state, which comprises 40% of Rs 34,000 crore exports from India. We appeal to the state government to waive all levies and support the basmati growers,” association director Ashok Sethi said.
The harvest of the 1,509 variety of aromatic grain has started and arrivals were reported in some places. Of at least 16 lakh acre under cultivation of aromatic grain, 40% is the 1,509 and the rest is the 1,121 variety.
“We are paying 8.5% over and above the cost of grain, which includes 2.5% dami to arhtiyas, transport and labour charges and 4% states taxes. These taxes are not charges in other basmati-growing states,” added Sethi.