Punjab may have been facing tough times ensuring smooth procurement of food grains lately, it still is an example for others. The Uttar Pradesh government has evinced interest in studying the system and then replicating it.
Principal secretary-level officer of the food and civil supplies department, UP, Sudhir Garg, wants to send a team of officials to Punjab to study the procurement system.
Soon a team from UP will visit the grain markets of Punjab and interact with the officers of procurement agencies, including those of Food Corporation of India (FCI).
Garg has asked FCI general manager, Punjab, Kumar Rahul to make arrangements for the visit. “Punjab undertakes huge procurement operations during the kharif and rabi seasons where more than one-lakh tonne of grain is procured. We want to study this model and see how we can replicate it,” Garg told HT over telephone.
According to Garg, UP is keen to know how in a single day money meant for farmers is transferred into the accounts of arhtiyas (commission agents), who further pass it on to the farmers. “I am also interested in knowing how Punjab operates through the arhtiyas,” Garg said.
“Uttar Pradesh has 60% more production of food grains as compared to Punjab, particularly wheat and paddy, but it procures only one-fourth of what Punjab does,” he said. The government also wants to study procurement system in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
Major chunk of wheat and paddy produced in UP is procured by private traders, at times, less than the minimum support price. In Punjab more than 98% of food grain that reach the procurement centres is procured jointly by the state agencies and the FCI.
“Punjab has strong network of about 1,850 procurement centres and this system is prevalent since 1965 when the State Agriculture Marketing Act and Mandi Board came into existence,” said Ravinder Singh Cheema, vice-chairman of Mandi Board, Punjab.