Pune: Farmers and farmers’ organisations across the State have reacted sharply to news about the purchase of tur from Mozambique. They are accusing the government of mismanagement and apathy for purchasing produce from a foreign country while domestic farmers suffer.
While Maharashtra itself has produced a bumper crop of 115 lakh quintals of tur, the Central government has decided to import 15 lakh quintals of tur from Mozambique.
This is significant, as tur growers this season have suffered from low prices, haphazard procurement procedures and low returns.
The government had restricted tur imports in the wake of this, but Mozambique is an exemption, as it has a bipartisan agreement with India.
Ashok Pawar, a tur growing farmer from Solapur, said, “Tur is an important crop for a farmer of rainfed areas where there is little irrigation and there is high dependency on rain. Tur can be sustained on rainwater and also fetches much needed income to the farmers. The government had encouraged farmers to grow tur when its prices had soared in 2016.”
“Farmers of the country grew a bumper yield in 2017 and the prices tanked. For a consecutive year now, let alone the Minimum Support Price of Rs 5,400 per quintal, farmers have been subjected to limited purchase at MSP, complex online procedures and lack of procurement infrastructure, leaving them at the mercy of open market prices, which hovered around Rs 3,000-3,500. By this import, the government has only ensured that next year, too, tur will see a fall in prices,” he said.
Sudhakar Patil, another tur farmer, said, “After cotton, it is tur that fetches some money for the rainfed farmer. Hence, much of our finances are dependent on money earned from tur.”
Patil said he is now disillusioned with the government’s policy. Patil said, “The government had information that there will be a huge spurt in tur production. Yet, the government has gone ahead with the imports.”
Yogesh Pande, spokesperson of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna, said, “There is shamelessness on part of the government, but beyond that, this seems to be a case of vested interests. Many politicians have investments and farms in other countries. We are going to demand that passports of politicians be checked to clarify who has business interests where.”
Ajit Nawale of the All India Kisan Sabha said that this is the evidence of the government’s apathy. “Tur had once reached Rs 15,000 per quintal. But the constant import policy and haphazard procurement policy ensured that the rates drop. This is like pushing our rainfed farmers towards suicide while benefiting farmers of other countries,” Nawale said.