Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday wrote a letter to Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan and requested him to increase the limit for online purchase for National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) in Maharashtra from 40,000 metric tonnes to 50,000 metric tonnes.
The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation of India (NAFED) is a central agency that aims to promote cooperative marketing of agricultural produce to benefit farmers. "This year the onion growing farmers have seen a good harvest and almost all wholesale markets have a good supply of onions. However, there is a very limited demand due to the lockdown and, in such circumstances, the wholesale rates for onion have gone down to Rs 8-10 per kg," the letter read.
It further read, "As the next crop is soon expected to reach the markets if the NAFED doesn't purchase their onions on time the prices of onion will fall more. Hence, the Union Minister is requested to increase the present limit for online purchase for NAFED from 40,000 metric tonne to 50,000 metric tonne so that farmers are not forced to bear the losses due to less demand."
He has also said in his letter that it was an injustice to the farmers when the NAFED last year lowered the limit from 45,000 metric tonnes to 40,000 metric tonnes. "However, it is high time for the Centre to increase the limit to 50,000 metric tonnes," he added.
The government on Tuesday said it has so far purchased around 2.61 lakh tonnes of pulses and 3.17 lakh tonnes of oilseeds from farmers worth Rs 2,682 crore during the ongoing marketing season of rabi (winter) crops under the Price Support Scheme (PSS). The PSS is operationalised on state governments' request when prices fall below the minimum support price (MSP).
The procurement is undertaken by nodal agencies like Nafed at minimum support price (MSP). Only a fair average quality commodity is purchased. However, in view of COVID-19 pandemic, the daily procurement limit has been increased from 25 quintals to 40 quintals per day under PSS for rabi crops.
The Union Agricultural Ministry also said that the government is taking several measures to facilitate farmers and farming activities at field level during the lockdown period in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
(With agency inputs)