Karnataka

Toor price crash leaves farmers, traders distressed

Downward trend: The toor grown in the State costs ₹65 to ₹68 a kg in the wholesale market, while the imported variety costs ₹55 a kg, leading to price crash.

Downward trend: The toor grown in the State costs ₹65 to ₹68 a kg in the wholesale market, while the imported variety costs ₹55 a kg, leading to price crash.  

They blame import of cheap toor from Africa for the crisis

The massive crash in toor price — with its rate in the open market falling much below the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government — has left the entire sector in the lurch. The affected are not just farmers, but also mill owners and traders. They blame the situation to import of cheap toor from Africa.

A quintal of toor is being sold at ₹3,500 to ₹3,700 in Kalaburagi — the district that grows most of red gram (toor) in the State — while the MSP is ₹6,000 a quintal and is capped at 20 quintals per farmer.

After the processing cost at mills is factored in, toor grown in the State costs ₹65 to ₹68 a kg in the wholesale market. In contrast, the imported variety is available at ₹55 a kg, leading to price crash, said Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, president of Bangalore Wholesale Foodgrain and Pulses Merchants’ Association.

“Unless the imports are controlled, there will be another price crash of ₹5 to ₹10 a kg, which will ruin the life of farmers and mill owners alike,” said Bharath Kumar Shah, chairman, APMC, Food Processing and Internal Trade Committee, FKCCI. Mr. Shah recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking regulation of imports into the domestic market.”

After a rally in 2015–16, when the price of toor shot up to an unprecedented ₹200 a kg in the retail market, 2016–17 saw the price stabilise, mainly with imports of around 30 lakh tonnes, a large portion of which is still flooding the market.

Following this, farmers in Kalaburagi and other north Karnataka districts opted for sowing more red gram and they harvested a good crop. However, they are now staring at a price crash.

“We have to spend around ₹3,500 for growing a quintal of red gram. We get ₹6,000 a quintal at procurement centres where we can sell only 20 quintal. The remaining produce will have to be sold in open market at around ₹4,500 a quintal. The yield will be around 5 to 6 quintals an acre. We will only get profit of ₹20,000 for an acre. It is difficult for small farmers to survive with this meagre profit,” said a farmer.

Pointing at the hurdles in the procurement, farmers’ leader Maruti Manpade has demanded removal of the cap of 20 quintals so that farmers can sell their entire crop at procurement centres at MSP. “The expected yield in the State is around 9 lakh tonnes from around 10 lakh growers. The Union government has capped the procurement at only 1.65 lakh tonnes. It means, farmers are forced to sell only 20 quintals at procurement centres at MSP and remaining in open market. The government should remove the restriction and purchase the entire crop at MSP,” he said. He also demanded an MSP of ₹7,500 a quintal.

With cheaper, imported toor flooding the market, mill owners are also not a happy lot. Nagesh R. Patil, a dal mill owner in Kalaburagi, said of around 250 dal mills that were functioning in the district, at least half had downed shutters.

“Since these imports are duty-free, toor is sold at a lower price and nobody buys the high-priced toor that we have processed. As a result, domestic toor industry is in deep crisis,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 4:53:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/toor-price-crash-leaves-farmers-traders-distressed/article22646819.ece

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