Farmers drying paddy crop.(HT FILES)
Farmers drying paddy crop.(HT FILES)

Crops not ready for harvesting in parts of Punjab as paddy procurement begins

Agriculture director Sutantar Kumar Airi has said at present only around 1% of advance varieties of paddy, mainly basmati, are ready for harvesting and procurement in parts of Majha
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Navrajdeep Singh, Patiala
UPDATED ON SEP 27, 2020 05:30 PM IST

Even though the Central government directed the Punjab and Haryana governments on Saturday to advance paddy procurement, the crop is likely to be ready for harvesting only in about 10 days.

The state was instructed at the last minute on Saturday to go ahead with procurement on Sunday even though the process usually starts from October 1.

Farmers who are almost done reaping the crops will start bringing in the yield by October 5, sources said.

According to agriculture experts, the procurement season will gain momentum in the second week of October as some varieties, including PR 121, 122,128, 129 and 140, will be ready for harvesting by then.

Agriculture director Sutantar Kumar Airi said at present only around 1% of advance varieties of paddy, mainly basmati, are ready for harvesting and procurement in parts of Majha in Punjab.

‘Most varieties still unripe’

“The main crop will start reaching the grain markets by October 5. After gathering reports from field surveys it was found that most varieties are still unripe, at the last stages of reaping. It will take over 10 days for these varieties to be ready for harvest,” Airi said.

Procurement is likely to gain momentum in the second week of the October as farmers have been advised not to carry out harvesting in haste.

The state government had earlier due to labour shortage advanced paddy sowing season by 10 days — from June 20 to June 10.

At least 26.6 lakh metric tonne paddy yield is expected this year across the state, while paddy production is estimated at 170 lakh metric tones.

In this Kharif season, the department has managed to shift 3 lakh hectare area from under water guzzling paddy cultivation to cotton and maize crops, which require minimal irrigation.

Release of crash credit limit to take time

Punjab food minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu said though the formal procurement season began from Sunday, it would take another four to five days for the Central government to release cash credit limit (CCL) for payments to the farmers.

“We have already written to the Union ministry of consumer affairs, food and distribution to allocate the CCL advance worth Rs 35,500 crore so that payment can be made to the farmers on time. We are hopeful of getting an advance by the time the procurement gains momentum,” Ashu added.

Meanwhile, with an increase of Rs 53 this year, the Minimum support price (MSP) of paddy (common) has been revised from Rs 1,815 to Rs 1,868 per quintal, while grade-A paddy will be bought for Rs 1,888 as compared to last year’s Rs 1,835 per quintal.

With no CCL, farmers question move

Farmer unions across the state, however, have questioned the Centre’s move to advance procurement.

“The Centre is yet to announce the CCL for the state procuring agencies. The farmers who have brought early varieties to grain markets have to wait longer for their payments,” said Jagmohan Singh, state general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda).

The unions believe that the decision is aimed to quell protests launched by farmers against the Central government over farm ordinances.

“The Centre wants farmers to get busy in the harvesting process to end the controversy over the ordinances. But we will continue our struggle and 31 farmer organisations will go ahead with our rail roko programme across the from October 1 onwards,” said Darshan Pal, state president, Krantikari Kisan Union.

Farmer leaders said the Centre was attempting to play divide and rule politics among farmers by projecting that the MSP and mandi systems would continue.

“However, it is other way round with implementation of these bills as both the mandi system and MSP will be abolished,” they added.

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