Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has said that the futures market can be beneficial for farmers and can help them get higher price realisations. It can also hedge against price volatility since prices of major pulses often crash below the government fixed minimum support price (MSP). Just as millers, wholesalers and retailers are able to play the markets, farmers should be given similar options, he said.
“Policy advocacy for strengthening pulses value chains like many other agricultural commodities cannot be limited to boosting productivity and production alone. Focus should be on strengthening market access for farmers in terms of higher price realisations and improved risk mitigation,” he said at a meet held by the India Pulses and Grains Association (IPGA) to mark World Pulses Day.
Kant said that the government procurement options under the Price Support Scheme (PSS) and Price Stabilization Fund (PSF) are being made available to farmers in a timely manner so that they do not bear the brunt of selling at prices lower than MSP. There is, however, a need to strengthen storage and warehouse facilities, promote farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and pulses value chains that can undertake dal milling and marketing to enable assured market and higher returns to farmers, he said.
“Pulses production in India has increased from 8.4 million tonnes in 1950-51 to a record 25.7 million tonnes in 2020-21. The highest yield in pulses was registered at 853 kg per hectare in 2017-18.
“With increasing importance of technology and high-yielding climate-resilient seeds, cost of production is bound to increase for farmers. Therefore, either quantity or quality of produce should allow farmers to recover their cost of production and make reasonable profits to be able to sustain pulses farming,” he observed. Bimal Kothari, vice-chairman, IPGA, urged the government to modernise dal mills so that this sector attracts foreign direct investment. He also urged the government to allow the distribution of pulses through the Public Distribution System like rice and wheat.