Mumbai: With only few days left before the election code of conduct comes into force for civic and zilla parishad polls, Maharashtra government on Tuesday took three major decisions for paddy, soyabean, and tur farmers. Maharashtra’s revenue, agriculture marketing, and relief and rehabilitation departments announced a financial incentive of Rs200 per quintal for paddy farmers, direct monetary grant of Rs200 per quintal for soyabean farmers, and ordered a revised survey to measure the damage to tur crop in parts of Vidarbha and Marathwada.
The government also declared that farmers who have not enrolled for the Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme and whose crops have suffered damage due to floods would be paid 50% of the amount that they would be entitled to if they were covered under the scheme. Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Maharashtra’s relief and rehabilitation minister Chandrakant Patil said government resolutions for all these decisions were issued on 10 January. Patil said all these decisions had already been approved by the state cabinet and only government orders were issued on Tuesday.
The election commission of Maharashtra is likely to announce schedule of polls to 26 zilla parishad (district council) bodies and 10 municipal corporations soon, according to state election commissioner J.S. Saharia. The code of conduct will come into effect immediately with the announcement of election programme that would cover a large part of the state. “Considering that 26 of the total 36 districts in the state go to polls, all these decisions impact a large population, especially farmers. These are policy and monetary decisions which could not have been taken if the election code of conduct was in force,” said an official from the state’s revenue department, requesting anonymity.
The monetary incentive of Rs200 per quintal of paddy, with a cap of 50 quintals per farmer, would be paid by cheque over and above the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs1,470 per quintal for ordinary grade paddy and Rs1,510 per quintal for A grade variant. “The central government had ruled out raising the MSP when it was fixed. But there has been an increase in the input cost for paddy farmers in the state and this needs to be factored in when giving out the MSP. So the government has decided to pay an additional Rs200 per quintal with a ceiling of 50 quintals per farmers,” said the official adding that the government would bear the additional cost of Rs66 crore on this account. Only those paddy farmers who sell their crop during October 2016-March 2017 period would be eligible for this benefit.
The government would pay a grant of Rs200 per quintal to soyabean farmers for the crop sold between 1 October and 31 December, 2016, at the purchase centres run by the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). The grant would have a cap of 25 quintals per farmers. “We had a good monsoon in 2016 which led to an increase in area under soyabean cultivation. But high arrivals of soyabean caused a steep fall in the market price and caused losses to the farmers. This grant is aimed at offsetting this loss,” said an agriculture marketing department official seeking anonymity.
Maharashtra is India’s second highest producer of soyabean after Madhya Pradesh and according to an estimate by the Soyabean Processors Association of India is likely to produce nearly 3.9 million tonnes in 2016-17. A large number of farmers in Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Khandesh regions of the state grow soyabean, and the total area under soyabean in the state in 2016 kharif season was nearly 3.6 lakh hectares.