Punjab begins paddy procurement, 3,000 mandis set up to buy crop

Punjab agriculture department expects 190 lakh tonnes of paddy to reach the grain markets in the state for procurement this season
Paddy being readied for procurement in Punjab on Sunday. Chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi will visit the grain market in Morinda to launch the process. (HT file photo)
Paddy being readied for procurement in Punjab on Sunday. Chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi will visit the grain market in Morinda to launch the process. (HT file photo)
Published on Oct 03, 2021 11:31 AM IST
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ByHT Correspondent

Paddy procurement began in Punjab on Sunday with the Centre allowing 17% moisture in the freshly harvested crop and officials in the state food and civil supplies department saying that moisture in the crop reaching the grain markets was well within permissible purchase norms.

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“We have made all arrangements (for procurement), and the staff of the food department and four (procurement) agencies has reached the mandis to facilitate procurement,” said a senior officer of the Punjab food and civil supplies department. He said that there was adequate availability of gunny bags.

The Punjab government has set up 3,000 mandis for buying the crop and according to estimates of the state agriculture department 190 lakh tonnes of paddy is expected to reach the grain markets in the state for procurement.

The Centre is offering a minimum support price (MSP) of 1,960 a quintal for A-grade paddy and a cash credit limit of 35,700 crore was released by the Reserve Bank of India. The state’s four agencies, namely Pungrain, Markfed, warehousing corporation and Punsup, besides the Centre’s Food Corporation of India will buy the paddy.

CM, ministers to be in field today

According to agriculture department sources, freshly harvested crop started reaching the grain markets on September 20 in Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Khanna, Ropar and Mohali districts.

Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi will formally launch the procurement in Morinda, while food and civil supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu will be at the Khanna grain market along with state cabinet minister Gurkirat Singh Kotli. “All ministers and MLAs have been requested to be in the field today to start the procurement operations,” said Ashu.

Hitch before buying due to rain

The procurement process was postponed for 10 days by the Centre on September 30, a day before it was scheduled to start. The postponement was ordered owing to a report by Food Corporation of India that due to delayed spells of rain this time, there was high moisture content in the crop, and it might take a week to 10 days to be ready.

However, after pressure by farmers, the state government and the opposition parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Union agriculture ministry renewed its decision.

“In the interest of farmers, it has been decided to start procurement of paddy from October 3,” read the communication from the Centre’s ministry of food and public distribution on Saturday evening.

Chief minister Channi also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, seeking timely start of procurement as paddy has started arriving in mandis and any delay could lead to harassment of farmers.

Two cases of recycled rice from Bihar

Punjab Police registered two cases on Saturday after huge stocks of recycled rice illegally transported from Bihar were seized from godowns in Kapurthala and Tarn Taran.

At Ratta Gudda in Tarn Taran, 4,000 quintals of rice were recovered and at a godown in Kapurthala, 12,000 bags of rice were confiscated. The entire rice stocks were confiscated and FIRs were registered under the Indian Penal Code. So far, no arrest has been made.

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Thursday, December 02, 2021