Maharashtra govt doesn’t know what to do with 1.25 lakh tonnes of tur dal it bought from farmers
The Maharashtra government doesn’t know what to do with the 1.25 lakh tonnes of tur dal it bought from farmers for Rs625 crore in April. The huge stock has been gathering dust in godowns across the state.
Amid an uproar over falling prices of tur dal after a bumper crop, the government bought large amounts from farmers to protect them from losses.
The state saw a bumper crop this season, but this meant the price of pulse fell drastically. Farmers demanded the government buy their crop at the minimum support price (MSP) so that they didn’t suffer losses.
The state and Centre bought seven lakh tonnes of the pulse at the minimum support price of Rs5,050 a quintal. A quintal is about a tenth of a tonne.
Of this, the state bought 1.25 lakh tonnes after the Centre in April refused to buy more.
With the price still low, the state will suffer a loss of Rs70 crore if it decides to sell it on the market now.
The government is looking at a few other options — selling the pulse after milling it, at Rs80-90 a kg, or selling it to states where it is not grown.
The bumper crop of 20 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 was three times more than the previous year’s as many farmers turned to tur after prices of the pulse soared the year before. The monsoon was good and farmers expected to reap the benefit. Instead, the bumper crop caused prices to fall to less than Rs4,000 a quintal from the Rs9,000-Rs10,000 a quintal it had fetched last year.
There government could wait till prices go up, but this may backfire as storing it is a challenge, especially in the monsoon.
“More than 80% of the money has been paid to farmers after procuring their produce. After the investment, we have not been able to find a way to recover that money. We were expecting a loss of Rs70 crore, but as the price continues to fall in the market, we will have to wait to avoid more losses. Maintaining the stock, particularly in the monsoon, is a tough task,” said an official from the state’s marketing department.
The state is considering selling the stock to other states, which will sell it at fair-price shops.
“The governments of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, among others, buy dal to distribute through fair price shops and to supply to anganwadis (nurseries) and schools. We will participate in these auctions and offer to supply the pulse at competitive prices, “ the official said.
“We can mill and sell tur dal at Rs80-90 a kilo if we open retail outlets on the lines of the weekly markets for vegetables . The government can still earn a profit of Rs10 a kg. It will have to pay Rs15 a kg for milling and transporting,” said another official from the cooperation department.