Traders protest stock limits on pulses; threaten indefinite strike

Traders in several market committees (mandis) of Maharashtra have stopped purchase and sale of commodities in protest against the government imposing stock limits on pulses. Transactions at Latur, Amravati, Akola, Washim, Khamgaon and other major market committees in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions have been hit as traders have stopped buying agricultural commodities indefinitely since Monday.

In fact, pulse traders all across India are unhappy with the government’s order restricting stocks to be kept at retail and wholesale outlets. Several mandis in Rajasthan are also closed in protest against the decision. Pulse traders and millers of Madhya Pradesh have also joined forces against the government’s decision. Traders said imposing storage limit on pulses is not rational or practical.

The Federation of Association of Traders Maharashtra (FATM) and the Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industry and Trade (CAMIT) Mumbai jointly organised a virtual meeting of trade representatives. A decision was taken to observe a one-day token bandh on July 16 against the Centre’s decision. If the government does not withdraw its order, traders will continue the bandh indefinitely.

Last week, the Centre brought into effect the stock limits and movement restrictions on specified foodstuffs (amendment) order 2021, wherein stock limits have been imposed on wholesalers, retailers, millers and importers of pulses.

As per the government order, stock limits have been prescribed for all pulses except moong until October 31 for all states and Union Territories. Wholesale traders can stock 200 tonnes (but not more than 100 tonnes of one variety) while retailers can stock a maximum of 5 tonnes. Dal millers can stock 25% of their annual installed capacity or the last three months of production, whichever is higher.

Traders are ruing the imposition of stock limits at a time when pulse prices are coming down, and the decision is not in the interest of traders and farmers. The government is encouraging traders to buy pulses from farmers at higher prices and then expecting them to sell at lower prices, a statement issued by Indore Grain Oilseeds Traders Association said.

Traders said at present, prices of pulses other than lentils are below the minimum support price and in such a situation imposing stock limits is not justified.

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