Farm groups find gaps in procurement during fact-finding mission

By Times Of India on 25 Mar 2018
NEW DELHI: After taking round of several ‘mandis’ (agri markets) across five states as part of their MSP Satyagraha during March 14-22, a group of organisations on Saturday claimed that farmers at not a single one of these mandis were able to sell any crop at minimum support price (MSP) and urged the government to open up sufficient number of procurement centres so that the farmers are not forced into a situation of distress sale.
The group, led by Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj Abhiyan, also released its interim report, recommending urgent need for market intervention and effective procurement to deal with farm distress.

The group claims to have visited those mandis to find out truth whether the farmers are actually getting MSP that they have been assured of.

The MSP Satyagraha was carried out by the Jai Kisan Andolan of Swaraj Abhiyan in collaboration with many other organisations from within the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) - an umbrella body of several farmer rights outfits.

Their claims were made amid several reports of farm distress from many parts of the country, specifically due to inadequate procurement. Though the country during 2016-17 had record production of food-grains and horticultural produce, its benefit could not be reaped by the farmers.

It is expected that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday refer to issues relating to farm distress, MSPs and what his government has been doing to deal with the problem as part of the Centre’s goal to double farmers’ income by 2022.

Referring to the crisis situation, which was observed by the farmer organisations during their fact-finding mission, Yogendra Yadav while addressing a press conference on Saturday said, “Leave alone the demands about increasing the MSP, even the MSP which is already guaranteed by the government is not being implemented”.

Representatives of farmer organisations during March 14-22 MSP Satyagraha visited ‘mandis’ at Yadgir (Karnataka), Adoni, Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh), Suryapet and Kodad (Telangana), Sriganganagar (Rajasthan) and Rewari and Nuh (Haryana).

“In each of these locations, the team visited the mandi and interacted with farmers, traders and mandi officials. We also visited the closest procurement centres, wherever operational”, said the group in a statement.

The group made the following broad recommendations for all crops:

The farmers should be able to sell their entire crop at the MSP rate, and the government should take all steps to ensure that this happens.
Quantitative restrictions should be based on the upper end of expected yield for each district.

Farmers are often asked to produce 4-5 documents before MSP purchase can happen. This should be streamlined so that the paperwork is minimized.
Procurement should start on time and and be enforced stringently so that distress sales do not happen.

Sufficient number of procurement centres should be opened so that farmers are not compelled into situations of distress sales.

The location of procurement centres should be communicated in time through a variety of mediums like newspapers, television, radio and drum announcements in villages.

Procurement should happen inside the APMC Mandis and through the traders.

Fund Payments Order (FPO) should be generated within 24 hours and payments made soon after, failing which penal interest should be paid to farmers.

Moisture meters used by procurement agencies and private traders should be properly calibrated and verified.

Registration should be done on the spot and there should be a single window for the verification of land papers. There should be several options made available for identification at procurement centres.