Farmers forced to sell moong below MSP as Punjab government do not purchase any

Sources in the agriculture department said that this year moong was sown in 67,000 hectares across the state which is the highest ever.
Farmers inspect the moong production.
Farmers inspect the moong production.(FIle Photo| Express)

CHANDIGARH: With the highest-ever area under moong (green gram) this year in the state three times more than last year, the farmers are left in a lurch and forced to sell it below the minimum support price (MSP) to the private players as the AAP-led Punjab government has not purchased a single grain of moong this year so far.

As last year with a lot of hype and fanfare, it announced that it will purchase this pulse as part of the state’s crop diversification plan and it did as well.

Sources in the agriculture department said that this year moong was sown in 67,000 hectares across the state which is the highest ever. Last year it was only in 23,000 hectares, thus three times more than last season as this crop is sowed between paddy and wheat.

While the purchase season of moong began on the end of May or June 1 and will end on July 31 this year, only 26,966 metric tonnes (MT) of legumes has arrived in the mandis (grain markets) across the state and all of it has been bought below the minimum support price (MSP) by private players. They purchased the produce between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 per quintal while the MSP announced by the union government is Rs 8,555 per quintal.

Sources said that this year Punjab State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation Limited (MARKFED), a state-run cooperative society, has issued no notification to procure moong for the central pool. The state government promoted the sowing of summer moong during the previous two years and MARKFED was made some procurements on behalf of the Union Government.

Farmers inspect the moong production.
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5,500 MT of moong was purchased in 2022 by MARKFED after relaxing the norms as regards the fair average quality of produce. However, the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) only bought 2,500 MT of moong from MARKFED. Thus NAFED and Punjab Mandi Board suffered a loss of Rs 40 crore. Last year 2,500 MT moong was procured by MARKFED for the central pool, without getting specifications relaxed.

"The moong is being purchased between Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 per quintal below the MSP and only by the private players. Not a single grain was procured by the government despite tall claims last year as 75 per cent of the total produce had already reached mandis. The yield of the crop has also not increased much despite being sown in more areas this year due to weather conditions. It was cold initially and then too hot," said a leading Artiya of the state.

Talking with this newspaper, Ravinder Singh Cheema, President of Artiya Association, Punjab, said that the state government should procure moong at MSP and only after that the private players in the market will procure it above MSP. Thus farmers will benefit. This year the production of moong is just little more than last year despite the area under cultivation being much more.

The saving grace say farmers as this year it is the highest-ever moong which has helped them mitigate the losses caused by selling the crop below the MSP.

Balwinder Singh a farmer of Moga who cultivated moong on 32 acres, sold his produce to private players at less than the MSP between Rs 7,800 to Rs 8,000 per quintal. He said the yield was just about 4 to 5 quintals per acre this year, less than last year as it was 6 quintals per acre.

Harmeet Singh Kadian of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Kadian) said that the farmers have suffered major losses per acre that this year the state government did not procure even a single grain of moong, despite it being promised last year that it will be procuring moong at MSP every year.

"To save water and to diversify which all governments have been harpooning on it was a good crop and should have been promoted," he added.

Farmers inspect the moong production.
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