PATNA: Farmers in Bihar are under stress as the prices of agricultural commodities like pulses have fallen sharply in the past few months. Traders claim the prices of pulses and spices have plunged 20% below the minimum support price (MSP) in the last eight months.
“The prices of commodities like diesel and petrol have increased drastically, but that of agricultural produce have remained low. Farmers are under immense pressure as transportation of foodgrains is affected. The support prices are below 20-25% than it should be, because of which the market value is also less. We have suffered huge losses,” Yashwant Kumar Rai, a farmer from Rohtas, told this newspaper on Wednesday.
Sudarshan Pandey from Buxar said, “Tur dal is mainly produced from December to February and its prices normally rise by March. But even in May this year, the prices are low. Farmers are getting zero benefit from pulse farming.”
According to Subodh Kumar, a trader in Mithapur vegetable market, the prices of various agricultural commodities, including lentils and spices, have sharply decreased. “Till April 2017, Arhar dal was Rs160/kg, but has been around Rs62-65/kg for the past eight months. Likewise, Masur, Moong and Chana dal were sold at Rs60, Rs90 and Rs120 per kg respectively, but their prices have also witnessed a steep fall over the last eight months. The prices of other spices like cumin, turmeric and black pepper have also decreased.”
Elaborating the reasons behind fall in prices, deputy director (agro) at state agriculture department, Anil Kumar Jha said, “The prices of pulses have gone down because of good production throughout the year. Despite the good yield, farmers kept producing the same varieties as cropping pattern is hardly changed in the state.”
For instance, he explained, “The support price (decided by the government) of ‘Tur dal’ at present is Rs54.50/kg and its market price is Rs64/kg. Based on this, farmers in Bihar are under moderate conditions as the actual realization is running in positive direction. The condition of loss comes when the support price is very less than the market price.”
Residents, on the other hand, are upbeat over the lower prices of dal. Geeta Devi of Meethapur said, “There was a time when dal was costlier than chicken, but it is affordable for all.”