Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tur now brings tears to farmers' eyes-TIMES OF INDIA

Tur now brings tears to farmers' eyes

NAGPUR: Tur dal, the common man's source for protein which had left a big hole in the consumers' pocket last year, has now become the farmers' sorrow. Like the cotton phenomenon as reported by TOI on Wednesday, even tur rates have crashed towards the end of the crop season when normally the trend should have been the other way around.

Prices of 'tur whole' (raw material for dal) have crashed phenomenally in the last one week. What's further worsening the situation is that there are no takers for the commodity even at rock bottom rates. The prices currently range from Rs 1800 to Rs 3200 a quintal, down from Rs 5,000-4,500 at the time of the crop's arrival in January. In a week, the prices had fallen by Rs 500-700 and it only kept going down over the next couple of months.

Last year, the tur whole rates had touched a peak of Rs 6,000 a quintal after opening at Rs 4,500.

Tur dal, however, is still priced between Rs 5500 to Rs 6800 a quintal at the retail counters, way above the rates of the raw material. Millers claim that this is due to the high processing costs (see story).

Farmers, especially those from Vidarbha, are in a fix as they have thronged mandis with their stock only to find a glut. There are reports of almost 1500 truckloads of tur whole stranded at the Hinganghat market yard, 75 kms from Nagpur on the road to Hyderabad. Traders who apprehend a further fall are simply refusing to lift the stock.

Tur whole farmers have been left in a hapless situation as the state government, which had announced a support price of Rs 3,500 per quintal, has not started the procurement process. This has hit the Vidarbha farmer hard as the local produce is not fetching more than Rs 1800-2500 because of its poor quality. Better quality stock from Andhra and Karnataka is being quoted for Rs 3200 but there are no buyers for it as well.

Such a situation has never happened in the past. The shortage on account of a poor harvest of the crop should have ensured it a higher price. However, unseasonal rains have affected its quality and it's only resulted in a price crash.
Fearing a further collapse in prices, millers are not buying the stock of tur whole from the farmers. The situation is grim at Hinganghat where even farmers from Andhra and Karnataka are camping. The farmers rushed there hoping to get a little more rate than what's being offered in other markets. "But the situation is no different," said Kishore Khera, a miller from Hinganghat which has a cluster of 25 mills.

The situation has resulted in more tur whole being imported from Myanmar from where the grain is regularly sourced to meet the shortage. Therefore, the importers have a lot to gain as the costlier grain from Myanmar is finding a good market especially as the domestic produce is not meeting the quality. Normally, a higher priced imported grain would have had no takers as the importers do not find a market if the domestic variety is cheaper.

Currently, tur whole imported at Rs 3500 to Rs 3900 a quintal, which is on the costlier side, too has takers.

Farm activist Vijay Jawandhiya says that even as it is necessary to import tur whole, the government can still impose a duty on the commodity so as to protect the local farmers' interest. "Given the prices the crop fetched last year, farmers increased their acreage hoping for the phenomenon to continue. Their plans went haywire as rains took a heavy toll on the quality of harvest," said Jawandhiya. "Even the prices in Myanmar have come down by 40

"Tur growers have incurred heavy losses," said farmer Nitin Khadse from Jalka village in Yavatmal district. "The rates opened at Rs 4,900 at the Pandharkavda market in January after which there has been a continuous fall. The quality of tur grown in Vidarbha is inferior to that of Andhra Pradesh due to which farmers here are getting just Rs 1800-2300 a quintal."

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