High moisture content and discoloration of grains due to untimely rains is acting as a deterrent in paddy procurement in Punjab. As a result, farmers are forced to sell their produce at much below the minimum selling price (MSP) of Rs 1,345 per quintal.
According to the state agricultural marketing board data, there have been instances where the paddy was being sold at Rs 900 per quintal against the MSP of Rs 1,345 per quintal. While, last year the minimum price it fetched was Rs 1,042 per quintal. It clearly indicates that the farmers are not getting remunerative price for their crop and even lesser than the last year.
Speaking to Business Standard, one of the senior officials of the state agricultural marketing board said, "The level of moisture content in paddy arrivals was found to be more than 20 per cent which is in excess of permissible limit of 17 per cent. The high moisture content and discoloring of grains acting is as a deterrent to the buyers. While the central government agencies are refusing to buy crop citing high moisture content and discolored grains, the private traders are procuring paddy at lower price than the MSP. Considering the weather, it is very difficult that the moisture level in the grain will come down."
According to the data, as on October 20, in the ongoing kharif marketing season, out of the total arrival of 48.93 lakh tonnes, government owned procurement agencies have so far procured 35.61 lakh tonnes of paddy, which is 6 per cent lower than 37.87 lakh tonnes paddy procured in corresponding period of last season.
While the participation of private traders in the current procurement season has increased significantly. In the current season they had purchased 10.37 lakh tonnes, compared to 8.64 lakh tonnes during the corresponding period of the last year, thus witnessing an increase of 20 per cent. It is worth mentioning that Punjab expects to procure 130 lakh tonnes of paddy in the current season.
Earlier, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also said that the norms fixed for procuring paddy have turned out to be "hindrances" for the process in the state.
"The specifications laid down by the Union Government, for paddy purchase, are creating hindrances in the smooth procurement of paddy in the state,"he added.
Perturbed over the problem, farmers are seeking relaxation in crop procurement norms in the wake of fetching lesser prices for their crop. Farmers in the state demands that the specification pertaining to moisture content in paddy should be raised from 17 per cent to 22 per cent. They also demanded that norm for discoloured grains to be increased from three per cent to eight per cent.
Paddy was sown over 27.50 lakh hectares in the state and it is expected that the production may touch 160-162 lakh tones. But the state agriculture department officials said there could be a five per cent drop in paddy yield due to inclement weather conditions.
Courtesy : http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/farmers-in-punja...