Maharashtra govt denies report of penal action on agricultural traders

A senior official of the Government of Maharashtra has denied any proposal to penalise or cancel the licence of traders buying from farmers at below the minimum support price (MSP).

The clarification came after media reports that the state cabinet had decided to penalise any buying of produce from farmers below the central government-set MSP. Reports of the decision had resulted in traders at the Baramati and Latur wholesale markets, both major ones, declining to participate in auctions. Something similar began at Jalna but the authorities there too the initiative to clarify that there was no such decision.

"There was no such cabinet decision and nor am I aware of any such proposal being put forth. Proposals related to agriculture and marketing are made by me. I have not made any such pro*posal. I don’t know who spread this rumour. In the existing enabling APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) guidelines, there is a provision for cancelling the licence of traders who deny any purchase of farm commodities from farmers (at prevailing prices),” said Bijay Kumar, the state government's additional chief secretary (agriculture and marketing).

“The MSP is an assurance of the government to farmers. If an ignorant farmer comes to sell at an APMC mandi, being unaware of the prevailing price situation there, and some group of traders surrounds him and purchases at below the MSP, the traders’ licence can be cancelled (meaning that the flexibility to take such action exists).” Maharashtra has been in the news, off and on, for farmers committing suicide for being unable to get enough return for their cost of production.

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