Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, September 30
The state government is all set to start procurement of paddy from Saturday with a target to procure 187 lakh metric tonnes this year. In spite of the recent spell of inclement weather and southern rice black-streaked dwarf virus attack, the government is hopeful of a bumper crop.
Arrangements not in place
Mansa: With paddy procurement all set to start on Saturday, many grain markets in Mansa district still have not made proper arrangements for purchase. Many centres have not got gunny bags for filling paddy. At places, neither lights have been installed, nor drinking water and toilet facilities have been provided. TNS
No change in commission for agents
- There is no change in commission given to arhtiyas for paddy purchase, which remains at Rs 45.88 per quintal. “We are demanding its increase as it is same since 2020,” says Naveen Goyal, an agent
- This year, moong was purchased by the government without paying any commission to agents
- Even for cotton purchase, the state government had earlier reduced the commission for agents from 2.5% to 1%
Sources in both the Food Corporation of India and the state government have told The Tribune that the crop yield loss because of the unseasonal rains and the virus was just about 1 percent, thus leading to hopes of a good harvest. The area under paddy affected by rains is 1.39 lakh hectares, says a report by the Agriculture Department. The total paddy production this year is expected to be 200 lakh metric tonnes (LMT), of which 187-191 LMT will reach mandis for procurement.
The state has already received the substantive part of cash credit limit (CCL) of Rs 36,999 crore, while the remaining amount (Rs 7,500 crore) will be released in November. “We have made adequate arrangements for smooth paddy procurement. All arrangements are in place to deal with any inclement weather during the course of procurement, as lifting of paddy from mandis will be fast,” Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies, Rahul Bhandari, told The Tribune.
He said the majority of shellers have already been allotted the mandis from where the paddy would be sent to their premises for storage and shelling.
Though this year the Centre had been pushing the private sector to enter the mandis for procurement, sources say that with paddy available in different parts of the country, and often at rates below the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 2,040 per quintal, it is unlikely that private players will come to Punjab.
“If the traders get cheaper paddy from other states, they will buy from states closer to the recipient states, as the freight charges from Punjab are high,” says Harbans Rosha, a commission agent in Khanna.
Even before the paddy season has started, paddy has already started arriving in some of the mandis like Khanna, Rajpura and Sangrur. Farmers and commission agents are expecting higher paddy arrivals to begin only around Wednesday, when the high moisture content caused by rains reduces.
Just before the paddy season starts, the FCI too is working overtime to ensure that there is adequate storage space for this year’s paddy by shifting the previous years’ rice out to other states.
Regional General Manager, FCI, Punjab, Hemant Kumar Jain, told The Tribune that the central agency has 127 lakh metric tonnes of covered space at its disposal in the state. “We are presently holding 58.29 lakh metric tonnes of rice and 16.95 lakh metric tonnes of wheat stocks, and have enough space to store this year’s purchase of paddy,” he said.