Calling for the withdrawal of the agricultural marketing tax, the national association of paddy traders threatened to organize a demonstration. At a special convention at his office in Alamgunj in the city, the ‘Paschombanga Dhanya Byabsayee Samiti’ – paddy trader’s body demanded that the state authorize the purchase of paddy from traders at the MSP (support price minimum) offered to paddy-growing farmers throughout the State.
Farmers are offered Rs 1,960 per Quintal of paddy when supplied by the State. Paddy on the open market is sold at Rs 1540 per Quintal. Bengal, an important paddy growing state, produces an average of 2.60 Cr metric tons of paddy every year.
“Of this total production, a meager 20% is bought by the State against MSP. The rest of the marketable surplus is sold through us and for this the State Agricultural Marketing Department charges an additional 0.5% levy, which is borne by our fellow traders who strike their marginal profit perpendicularly,” said Narayan Chandra Ghosh, the state president. of the Samiti.
Delegates from rice growing districts like Burdwan (East and West), Hooghly, Birbhum, Murshidabad, Jhargram and Midnapore (West and East) gathered at the convention. Samiti officials on the other hand claimed that the farmer growing paddy has to bear the burden of the levy, which discourages the farmer from selling his produce in the open market.
Pashupati Pramanik, Secretary of State of Samiti, said: “After tax deduction, in a large paddy-growing district like Burdwan East, a farmer ultimately earns Rs. 1450 per quintal of output.” The state, on the other hand, has not changed the levy rate over the years despite changes in the respective laws related to agricultural trade.
Sudip Paul, Deputy Director of Burdwan East District Regulated Market, said: “The levy rate has remained the same for years. As we have increased monitoring, this may have caused inconvenience to some merchants accustomed to unhealthy sales practices.