Haryana plans to switch over to machine-driven procurementUpdated: Aug 04, 2020 23:17 IST
Before the paddy harvesting season sets in, Haryana government is actively planning to gradually switch from manual to machine-driven procurement of food grains and overcome the looming risk of labour shortage induced by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
In what is being seen a first firm step towards mechanisation of procurement process, Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board (HSAMB) has mooted a plan about introducing stock-lifting machines in the wholesale grain market yards.
The new equipment will include motor-operated electrical loaders, bag stackers, electronic weighing scales and bag stitching machines. Based on the volume of grain arrival in the mandis, about two to five e-loaders and bag stackers will be installed in each procurement centre.
“To begin with, we plan to introduce these machines in about 80 mandis,” PK Das, additional chief secretary (ACS), food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, said.
“This system will also help us in eliminating ghost purchasing of the grains. At the entry and exit points of the mandis, there would be electronic weighing scales that will help us in quantity audit.”
Haryana produces nearly 68 lakh metric tonne (LMT) paddy, including over 25 LMT basmati on about 32 lakh acre land.
As paddy production consumes massive quantity of water, Haryana government has also introduced ‘Mera Pani Meri Virasat’ policy to encourage farmers to switch over to alternative crop in place of paddy.
Deputy CM Dushyant Chautala, who also holds the portfolio of the food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, in a statement said due to Covid-19, labour shortage may continue during paddy procurement in October. “In view of this, the state government has decided to mechanise the procurement process,” he added.
Haryana largely depends on farm labourers from UP and Bihar and most of them had gone back to their native places amid coronavirus outbreak. Once the farmers bring in their harvest to the mandis, the next challenge is how to unload the large volumes, weigh and pack the vast quantity of grain.
The delay in lifting of grains leads to glut in the wholesale markets as at present, trucks are loaded manually. “You need a specialised labour for this laborious task of lifting, loading and unloading of grain bags. The electrical loader will reduce dependence on manual labour,” the ACS said.
In its proposal to the government, the HSAMB has said that these machines can load and unload two to three bags per minute and could reduce 75% dependency on labour.
“...Also, the time of loading, stacking and unloading will reduce to less than half,” reads the HSAMB note.
According to Sumedha Kataria, chief administrator of HSAMB, at least 24 maize dryers will be bought for three Kurukshetra mandis (Ladwa, Babain and Pipli).
The maize arriving in the markets contains high moisture ranging from 24% to 46%. Drying of maize during the peak arrival period is a difficult task for farmers as manual drying is a labour-oriented and time-consuming process.
These machines can reduce high moisture of maize to normal purchasable moisture 18% to 20% in seven to eight hours. “Being portable, these machine can be shifted from one mandi to another as per requirement,” Kataria added.