Mustard Market Madness – Farmers Feel the Squeeze Hard Pressed Harvest - Farmers Miss the Mustard Mark

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The mustard market faces a turbulent storm, leaving farmers grappling with less-than-ideal prices. With the imminent arrival of the new mustard crop in the New Delhi market in just two months, concerns deepen as farmers witness prices still lagging behind the Minimum Support Price (MSP) despite the government fixing the MSP for mustard at $0,6566 or €0,5924 per kg for the Rabi marketing season 2023-24. This alarming scenario develops against the backdrop of India being a significant importer of edible oils. However, the struggle lies in the government’s inability to ensure fair prices for Indian farmers, leaving them unable to secure rates equal to the MSP.

Import Policies Hit Farmers’ Pockets

According to established laws, the presence of an importer of any agricultural product should translate into a favorable domestic market price for farmers. Unfortunately, this is not the case due to the deficient import duty on edible oils. Traders find importing from abroad economically viable rather than purchasing locally produced mustard and soybeans. Despite being crucial importers, this predicament results in farmers failing to fetch the fair prices they deserve. The flawed import policy acts as a conduit, redirecting funds for Indian farmers to countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Ukraine, and Argentina. In the largest mustard-producing state, Rajasthan, most markets witness mustard rates lower than the MSP.

The Toll on Mustard Prices

The problem of low mustard prices finds its roots in the negligible import duty on edible oils. Adding to this woe is the failure of government mustard procurement, which should ideally align with established rules but needs to catch up. The law mandates purchasing at least 25 percent of the total mustard production, which should have amounted to approximately 3.1 million tonnes this time. However, only 1.02 million tonnes have undergone government procurement, leaving farmers burdened with losses and compelled to offload mustard at meager prices to traders. Meanwhile, consumers bear the brunt of expensive mustard oil, given the absence of constraints on the profits businesses can amass.

The impending arrival of the new mustard crop in the New Delhi market is shadowed by disappointing prices for farmers, still below the Minimum Support Price (MSP) set by the government at $0,6566 or €0,5924 per kg for the Rabi marketing season 2023-24. India’s status as a significant edible oil importer exacerbates the issue, with farmers unable to secure fair prices. Import duty loopholes divert funds meant for Indian farmers to other nations. The flawed import policy and deficient government mustard procurement leave farmers selling at a loss. The impact trickles down to consumers facing higher mustard oil prices. Future trends suggest a dire need for policy reforms to protect farmers’ interests.

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