2020-21 likely to see record paddy procurement
The Centre is on course to buying a record quantity of kharif or summer-sown paddy during 2020-21, with a sharply higher share of Punjab’s crop, with procurement nationwide rising 16.5% from the quantity purchased in the previous year, data from the food ministry show.
Paddy is the main summer staple that drives the incomes of millions of farmers. The ministry’s official figures show the government’s total procurement of summer paddy has touched 65.8 million tonnes until January 22 against the purchase of 56.5 million tonnes in the corresponding part of last year.
About 9.5 million farmers have been paid minimum support price worth ₹1.24 lakh crore. The food ministry has projected that total procurement will likely touch 74.2 million tonnes, up from the total quantity of 62.7 million procured during 2019-20.
Punjab’s share is 20.2 million tonne, which is 30.7% of the total quantity procured.
Production of kharif or summer crops this year is likely to be a record 144.5 million tonne, slightly higher than the 143.4 million tonne produced during the kharif season of 2019-20.
The ministry this year expanded its procurement operations, which refers to the government’s buying of farm produce at assured prices for summer-sown crops amid a massive farmers’ protest against three agricultural laws approved last year to remove regulations in the farm sector.
The government hopes to cover an estimated 10.5 million paddy growers this year, against last year’s 10.2 million. The government has also raised by 27% the number of paddy-purchase centres, which now stand at 39,122, up from 30,709 last year, official figures show.
An official statement said paddy procurement is still under way in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tripura.
The Centre has fixed an MSP for the so-called common variety of paddy at ₹1,868 per quintal and for the A grade variety at ₹1,888 per quintal for the current year. The government had initially set a total rice procurement target of 49.5 million tonnes for the entire country in the 2020-21 kharif season.
“The freeing up of storage space because of higher disbursal of subsidised grains during the pandemic has enabled the government to ramp up procurement,” said analyst Abhishek Agrawal of Comtrade, a commodities trading firm.