Paddy procurement in Punjab is trailing by 18 per cent compared to last year's purchase as procurement agencies are refusing to buy crop citing high moisture content and discoloured grains in the state.
Though farmers seeking relaxation in crop procurement norms in the wake of fetching lesser prices for their crop, the state agriculture department officials said there could be 5 per cent drop in paddy yield due to inclement weather conditions prevailed during the start of paddy purchase season.
"Paddy purchase got delayed due to higher moisture content in the crop caused by untimely rain this season," a senior official of Food Corporation of India (FCI) said here on Thursday.
In the ongoing kharif marketing season, government owned procurement agencies have so far procured 19.27 lakh tonnes (LT) of crop in Punjab which is 18 per cent lower than 23.63 LT crop bought in corresponding period of last season.
Punjab expects to procure 130 LT of paddy in the current season.
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, officials said.
Because of higher moisture content and discoloured grains, procurement agencies are refusing to buy crop, farmers alleged.
"We expect crop procurement to pick up in coming days with weather conditions turning clear," the FCI official said.
Major problem of non-procurement of paddy was witnessed at Amritsar, Kapurthala and Patiala, officials said.
Rice millers have also refused to buy crop, saying that the quality of rice gets affected because of crop with high moisture content.
"We face problem in converting paddy to rice with crop having higher level of moisture content, thus affecting rice quality," punjab rice millers association president Tarsem Saini said.
Punjab Agriculture department has also acknowledged that there were chances of up to 5 per cent drop in overall yield of paddy because of untimely rains.
"Wherever the crop has got flattened, the grains have turned discoloured. Therefore, there are chances of dip in yield," an official of the department said.
Punjab is expecting 160-162 lakh tonne of paddy output with 27.73 lakh acres of paddy area.
Farmers claimed that there were forced to sell paddy at lesser rate than MSP as procurement agencies and rice millers were refusing to buy crop.
"Farmers at several places are forced to sell crop at Rs. 1,000-1,200 per quintal as against MSP of 1,345 per quintal," Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said.
BKU has sought from Centre to relax norms for higher moisture content and discoloured grains during paddy purchase.