Drought-hit state wants to stop hoarding as prices shoot up
GN Bureau | October 20, 2015
The Maharashtra government has set stock limits to regulate prices of pulses across markets in the state. The stock limit and regulation provisions would continue till September 2016. The prices of pulses have risen due to short supply and it was felt that artificial shortage would compound the problems.
Those holding huge stocks of pulses will have to declare the quantity to tehsildars in their respective regions. It would be open to monitoring at regular intervals.
The big operators will not be allowed to stock more than 1,000 quintal and smaller ones 40 quintal of pulses daily. The regulation comes at a time when the domestic and international markets are reeling under severe shortage of pulses.
State chief minister Devendra Fadnavis held a meeting to bring the prices of pulses under control, taking the cue from guidelines provided by the Centre. The state government is hoping for a better yield next season.
Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse said, “While drought has badly hit pulse production in Marathwada, the retreating monsoon helped to recover the shortfall from parts of North Marathwada and Vidarbha.” The rains during retreat of monsoon in Vidarbha helped increase tur dal production by 10 to 12 per cent.
Pulse production from Vidarbha would help increase overall stock of tur dal by 10 to 15 per cent in the state. But crops like urad dal have been damaged.
The Centre has also urged the state governments to initiate measures to promote pulse and oilseed production by giving free seeds and fertilisers to farmers. It expects prices to come down by Rs 10 to 15 in a week.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government has declared a "drought-like condition" in 14,708 of the state's 43,000 villages. This means the drought covers 34% of the state.
This is the second successive year of drought in Maharashtra. In fact, the state has experienced three such calamities in the last four years.
The region of Marathwada has been worst-hit, with a drought-like condition declared in every single village. As many as 8,522 villages in the region have been impacted. This accounts for 58% of the drought area in the state.
North Maharashtra, which includes Nashik and Jalgaon districts, follows next with 4,869 villages impacted. This accounts for 33% of the drought area. The region of Konkan has been spared, with not a single village affected by the calamity. The Konkan region experienced a plentiful monsoon this year.
"We have declared a drought-like condition earlier than usual. It is usually declared in December after a final assessment of crop loss," said Khadse, responding to the opposition's criticism that the state was not taking the crisis seriously.
The state can declare a drought-like condition only after an assessment of crop yield. Villages where the harvest is less than half the average yield come under this category.
The government has announced a series of measures for drought-affected farmers, including the waiver of land revenue and school fees for their children and a 33% waiver in the bill amount of agricultural pumps. The government has also said it will provide water tankers in scarcity-prone villages and take steps not to disconnect agricultural pumps.
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