The Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana has urged the Centre to bring onions and grapes under the ambit of Minimum Support Price (MSP). Farmers cultivating onions and grapes are often subjected to exploitation and market manipulation by traders, said Sanghatana president Raju Shetti.
There is no mechanism which can promise price stability to farmers, he said, adding that the provision of market intervention has not yielded expected results. “The Centre should bring onions and grapes under MSP. This will provide higher remuneration to farmers. It will also put a check on exploitation by traders,” Shetti said.
MSP is currently limited to select crops including paddy, jowar, bajra, maize, moong, niger seed, urad, wheat, gram, safflower, copra, raw jute, cotton, sugar cane, rapeseed/mustard, sesamum, groundnut, etc.
The farmers’ leader, who is currently touring northern Maharashtra, also pointed towards regional differences in sugar cane prices. “The western Maharashtra sugar belt, which is economically prosperous, offers Rs 3,100 per tonne for sugarcane procured from farmers, whereas farmers fetch lower rates for sugarcane sold to mills in north Maharashtra or Marathwada region,” he said. “The closure or partial functioning of sugar mills leads to financial problems and has an adverse impact on sugarcane farmers.”
Shetti urged the state and Centre to initiate measures to revive closed sugar mills to help sugarcane farmers earn better. “Sugar mills should pay a minimum of Rs 3,700 per tonne for sugarcane procured from the farmer… The sugarcane farmer should be able to recover the entire production cost, along with a decent profit to sustain him financially,” he added.