Bihar govt to begin paddy procurement next week, targets 30 lakh MT
In a major relief to despondent farmers, the Bihar government’s cooperative department has decided to launch paddy procurement through the primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) and Vyapar Mandal outlets across the state next week, officials said.
The department aims to procure around 30 lakh metric tonne of paddy from the farmers at the minimum support price of ₹1,868 per quintal, up ₹53 from the last year. It has already released a bank guarantee of Rs 2,200 crore to the cooperative banks concerned to shell out necessary credits to the PACS.
Secretary, state cooperative department, Vandana Preyashi said that a joint order of the cooperative and the food and consumer protection departments had been issued on Monday in this regard. The task force set up in all the districts for procurement of paddy had been asked to meet and finalise the strategy for procurement in their respective districts at the earliest.
“So far, the task force in 18 districts already met and started the ground work for procurement. Rest of the districts would follow suit soon. The department has already got a bank guarantee of ₹5,500 crore for paddy procurement this year,” said the secretary.
A sense of despondency had started creeping in among the farmers as the state government did not issue any clarification regarding delay in paddy procurement. Last year, the PACS had launched the procurement from November 15. Procurement of foodgrains on the MSP was one of the main poll agenda of the opposition parties, particularly the Congress, during the recent assembly election.
Last year, the cooperative department had procured about 25 lakh metric tonnes of paddy from the farmers at the MSP of ₹1,815 per quintal. Officials said that it was the heaviest quantity of paddy procurement by the state government so far. “Custom milled rice - the rate on which millers deliver back rice to the state food corporation - was also very encouraging. It’s almost 99%,” said Preyashi.
The Congress party is, however, not content with the rate of paddy being offered to the farmers of Bihar. “We had promised to offer ₹2,500 per quintal paddy on the pattern of Chattisgarh. Even the Jharkhand government is paying a bonus of Rs 132 in addition to the MSP to farmers on every quintal of paddy procured,” said Congress MLC Prem Chandra Mishra.
A section of farmers, however, apprehended that PACS and Vyapar Mandal might further delay the procurement process citing excess moisture or absence of capacity to store them. “Some of PACS have godowns with capacities of 1,000 tonnes while others have capacities of 500 tonnes, 200 tonnes and 100 tonnes. The total capacity of all the godowns owned by PACS across the state is about 11 lakh tonnes,” said Nawalesh Sharma, a farmer of Bikramganj.
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