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Business News/ Economy / Paddy purchase declines as farmers hold back in run-up to elections
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Paddy purchase declines as farmers hold back in run-up to elections

The union government, through the federal FCI and state agencies, has procured 14.7 mt of paddy in the ongoing kharif marketing season

Chhattisgarh government has promised to hike the paddy procurement price to ₹ 3,600 per quintal. (Mint)Premium
Chhattisgarh government has promised to hike the paddy procurement price to 3,600 per quintal. (Mint)

NEW DELHI:Government procurement of paddy has fallen as farmers hold back on selling their crop, hoping for sops ahead of Assembly elections in five states this year.

The union government, through the federal Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies, has procured 14.7 million tonnes (mt) of paddy in the ongoing kharif marketing season that started on 1 October, as against 15.9 million tonnes in the corresponding period last year.

The slow progress is due to farmers holding back their crops in the hope of bonuses or special announcements ahead of the five state assembly elections from 7 November this year, a government official said.

Elections are due in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana.

The Bhupesh Baghel-led Chhattisgarh government has promised to hike the paddy procurement price to 3,600 per quintal, apart from giving more incentives to landless farm labourers.

As it is, the state offers the highest prices to its paddy farmers. For the 2022-23 crop, Chhattisgarh farmers were paid 2,640 per quintal for common variety and 2,660 for grade ‘A’ paddy, well above the Centre’s minimum support price (MSP) of 2,040-2,060.

According to the Food Corporation of India data, paddy procurement in Chhattisgarh has so far been nil, compared with total procurement of 8.7 in the last kharif marketing year.

In Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, too, no procurement has taken place till date against last entire season’s 4.6 million tonnes and 6.5 million tonnes, respectively.

No procurement data is available for Rajasthan with the FCI.

Other key reasons for the lower procurement of paddy include erratic monsoon rainfall, delaying plantations in East India, drought-like situation in central India and floods in Punjab and Haryana.

There has been no procurement in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

In the last kharif season, procurement in West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Karnataka was 3.2 million tonnes, 4.2 mt, 177,000 tonnes, 1.5 mt and 21,000 tonnes, respectively.

In Punjab and Haryana, states where procurement is the highest, the government could buy 8.7 mt and 5.2 mt of paddy in the current season compared to 9.7 mt and 5.1 mt in the corresponding period of the previous year, the official said.

Paddy procurement in Punjab came to a halt earlier this month after commission agents and rice millers went on strike.

In accordance with the revised minimum support price of 2,203 per quintal for kharif procurement, the agents’ commission should have been 55.08 a quintal, but the Centre reportedly froze the commission at 45.86 per quintal.

Mandi labourers went on strike in Punjab’s Sangrur district, seeking a 25% increase in wages, as promised by the state government.

Queries sent to the agriculture and food & public distribution ministries remained unanswered at press time.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 31 Oct 2023, 11:54 PM IST
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