C'garh: Paddy procurement hit as FCI not lifting stock?

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Raipur, Jan 2 (PTI) Purported delay in lifting of rice from Chhattisgarh by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for the Central pool has been affecting procurement of paddy at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) at some centres in the Congress-ruled state, a senior official said on Saturday.

On Thursday, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over phone requesting to ensure that the Union food and public distribution department immediately issue a final order allowing the FCI to lift rice from the state.

The PM had assured him of taking the suitable action at the earliest, the official said.

Earlierthe Union government had given 'in-principle approval' to the state for depositing 60 lakh metric tonnes of rice in the Central pool after the custom milling of paddy in the ongoing KMS.

According to the official, 52.64 lakh metric tonne (MT) paddy has been purchased from 13.47 lakh farmers till January 1 in the ongoing Kharif marketing season (KMS), since the procurement drive started on December 1, 2020.

Though the drive is underway, problems have surfaced at some procurement centres in a few districts, including Durg and Rajnandgaon, due to shortage of jute bags and non-lifting of rice after custom milling from the state for the Central pool, a senior government official here said.

'Farmers are bearing the brunt of the shortage of jute bags. I was issued a token for December 31 for selling my paddy but due to shortage of jute bags at the procurement centre, I could not sell,' said Mahendra Kumar Bhatt, a farmer from Savni village in Durg district.

'The procurement centre personnel ask us to bring 'bardana' (gunny bags) on our own. Only small farmers who own small farmland are able to sell their paddy by somehow arranging gunny bags but those who have cultivated a large quantity of paddy are facing trouble,' he told reporters.

Amapendri, Khudumudi, Tulsi and Savni villages are dependent on the procurement centre (primary cooperative society) at Savni to sell their produce on MSP. The situation is quite the same in all nearby procurement centres, said Mahendra Yadu, a villager.

According to the official, the delay in lifting of rice by the FCI for the Central pool has resulted in disruption of the procurement at some centres.

'Millers are not lifting paddy from procurement centres for its processing into rice as the Centre is yet to issue the order for delivery of custom-milled rice to FCI.

Huge stock of paddy has piled up in procurement centres. Lack of storage space and jute bags have been affecting the process, the official said .

The state government had also written to the Jute Commissioner for supply of 3.50 lakh gunny bags, but only 1.

45 lakh gunny bags have been allotted, he said, adding that only 1.05 lakh gunny bags have been received until now.

Meanwhile, following his conversation with the PM, the chief minister also spoke to Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal over phone on Friday.

Talking to reporters on Saturday, Baghel said Goyal had expressed apprehension that the state government was giving incentive to farmers on paddy procurement through the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojna (RGKNY) scheme.

'However, I have clarified to him that we are procuring paddy at the MSP fixed by the Centre and the RGKNY scheme is a different cash benefit scheme like the Centre's PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna,' Baghel said.

If the union minister gives permission, officials from Chhattisgarh will go to Delhi 'so that facts related to RGKNY can be placed before him', he added.

In the KMS 2018-19, the state government had procured paddy from farmers at Rs 2,500 per quintal which was much more than the MSP fixed by the Centre.

The Centre had then refused to increase the state's quota of rice in the central pool.

In KMS 2019-20, the state government procured paddy at MSP fixed by the Centre and launched RGKNY scheme to give Rs 10,000 per acre to farmers as an input support. PTI TKP NSK NSK