GULBARGA, December 21: It is the same old story for red gram growers. The price of red gram has crashed below the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs. 4,300 a quintal, fixed by the Union government, at the beginning of the season itself.
The price of red gram at the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard here on Friday was Rs. 3,897 a quintal.
According to market sources, the price started crashing from December 16 when it was quoted at Rs. 4,261 a quintal. Sources said the price would crash further as freshly harvested red gram was arriving in large quantities in market.
According to one estimate, more than 2.5 lakh quintals of red gram had been sold so far in 16 markets in the region and in bigger markets in Lathur, Dudhini and Solapur in the neighbouring State of Maharashtra. In Gulbarga alone, according to official records, 92,786 quintals of red gram has been sold in the APMC market yard so far this month.
Although the price of the commodity has fallen below the MSP, no government agency, including the Red Gram Development Board, has intervened yet and taken steps such as opening procurement centres throughout the district to stabilise the price.
President of the Karnataka Pranta Raitha Sangha Maruti Manpade and secretary of the All-India Kisan Sabha Moula Mulla told The Hindu that although it was high time the government intervened and established procurement centres to purchase the produce directly from farmers, the MSP of Rs. 4,300 a quintal was not acceptable to them.
They pointed out that last year, the procurement price was Rs. 4,500 a quintal (State government’s incentive and MSP put together).
Mr. Manpade said the government, taking into account the increased cost of fertilizer and cultivation expenditure, should fix the MSP of red gram at Rs. 6,500 a quintal.
He said a delegation of the KPRS would meet Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in Bangalore on Saturday, raise the issue of higher MSP for red gram and seek government’s immediate intervention to arrest the slide in the price of the commodity.
Meanwhile, inquiries with the Red Gram Development Board revealed that it had only Rs. 5 crore in fixed deposits and this could be used for purchasing red gram from farmers.
The government would have to release additional amount from the revolving fund established for market intervention soon, sources said. This year, the State government has set aside Rs. 1,000 crore in the revolving fund.
Unless the State government immediately announces incentive over the MSP of Rs. 4,300 a quintal and intervenes in the market to stabilise the price, the days ahead would be harsh for red gram growers in the region, sources said.