PUNE: As a majority of the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC) begin to see trading activity as usual, some APMCs are seeing adamant traders refusing to begin purchase of the produce, as the continuation of the strike was announced and then taken back by traders across the State.
The traders had observed a strike against a proposed amendment to the APMC Act, which would allow traders to be arrested if they fail to pay farmers as per the Minimum Support Price (MSP).
The Maharashtra Agriculture Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act has a provision already wherein if a trader purchases agricultural produce from the farmer at a rate lower than MSP, his licence can be revoked. The government was overlooking a proposed amendment to the act, which sought punishment of one-year imprisonment and Rs 50,000 fine for failing to pay MSP to the farmer.
Irked traders had declared a strike and had stopped the purchase and sale activities at APMCs across the State as the soybean and moong purchase season is just beginning. This had put farmers in a quandary and many farmers’ organisations too had supported the strike in favour of the traders. The Maharashtra Federation of Association of Traders conducted a meeting in Pune on September 3 and had called off its strike after the government assured the traders that there is no such proposition.
After the strike was called off, most APMCs began trading as normal, but some APMCs in Latur, Jalgaon, Pachora, Jamner and other parts have seen adamant traders yet to resume trade, holding farmers in these areas hostage. Manik Kadam of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna said, “Though it is wrong to force the traders to pay an amount that is not feasible for them as per market forces, we have had to make traders begin purchase activities by asking authorities to cancel their licenses if they refuse.”
“The traders in Latur are adamant because Latur is the hub of soybean trade in the country and will see a drop in rates if the procurement is delayed. This might also have a national impact,” he further said.
The traders’ association says that it has asked all traders to recall the strike. “We have asked all our trader members and associations to take back the strike after we received assurance from the government. We have given the government a one-month deadline to take away the provision to enforce MSP on traders,” said Popatlal Oswal, Poona Merchants Chamber.
When asked about the necessity of MSP, he said, “Then we will not buy from the farmers. They can sell it to the government according to the MSP, but we won’t buy moong here as per MSP if we’re getting it for Rs 45 a kg from Karnataka.”