PUNE: Protesting a proposed stringent amendment to the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act for those paying farmers less than declared Minimum Support Price (MSP), the traders in the State, especially in Marathwada, have gone on a strike and stopped the auction process at the APMCs. This has caused a decrease in the flow of agricultural produce. The agitation has support from farmers’ and traders’ bodies. To decide the further strategy, a meeting of traders will be held on September 3 in Pune.
Currently, the APMCs are governed under Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act of 1963, and the Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act of 1967. Alleging that the traders exploit farmers of value by paying less than the MSP declared by the government, the State government has supported a proposal to amend the act and impose punitive action on traders who do not pay farmers as per MSP.
According to sources, the amendment will have a provision for imprisonment up to 1 year and Rs 50,000 fine, if found in violation of MSP requirement. Though the amendment has Cabinet approval, the act needs to be amended first. There has been no official communication as yet.
In protest, traders stopped trading in the market committees at Nanded, Parbhani, Hingoli, Washim and others on Tuesday. The traders in Parbhani APMC have kept trading shut since August 24. The traders in Hingoli and Nanded have kept shutters closed since August 28.
Some farmers’ organisations have supported the protest. The Sharad Joshi faction of the Shetkari Sanghatna said the amendment is unfair to farmers and will stifle competitive environment and hamper quality of produce.
The State government, however, said no such regulation has been issued yet.