Nellore: Meagre support price, delay hurts farmers

Farmers have no facility or space like godowns to stock their harvested paddy.

Nellore: Paddy growers have reason to be upset as the minimum support price (MSP) they are being offered is meagre. The government has fixed Rs 14,500 per quintal as MSP for Grade I paddy and Rs14,100 for the common variety. But farmers are not able to get these prices because the civil supplies department has been delaying opening the paddy purchase centres.

Paddy was cultivated in nearly 5.4 lakh acre and officials have been expecting an output of 16 lakh MT during the ongoing harvest season, but now, the cultivators are being forced to dispose of the paddy even if the rate is low as godowns are not available.

Some of them who went in for transplantation of paddy before the heavy rains hit Nellore district in November last year have already suffered losses due to poor yields as a result of the crop getting submerged. They managed to get only 2 or 3 puttis of paddy (one putti is equal to 850 kg) per acre. Those who raised the crop after the rains obtained 4 to 5 puttis, but they too don't stand to gain because of the low rates.

The buyers' failure to offer a remunerative price is another blow to them. Paddy brokers from neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana states paid more than the MSP for the superfine varieties during the initial stages of the harvest season. For instance, they initially paid Rs 17,000 per quintal for the super fine variety, BPT 5204, this rate now having dropped to Rs 14,000 as more paddy has entered the market.

The civil supplies department has attributed the delay to the millers' failure to offer a bank guarantee, a new condition laid down by the government to be able to take the paddy from purchase centres.

Earlier, the government used to supply paddy that it collected from farmers to millers, and then supply this to fair price shops. Some millers even misused 5,000 MT of such paddy in the open market, which led to the government introducing the bank guarantee system.

Referring to the condition that MSP is subject to moisture levels below 17 per cent, president of the Federation of Farmers - C.S.R. Koti Reddy said that the stipulation could be met only if the paddy was dried for three days, but farmers have no facility or space in which to keep the harvested paddy.

He said that the solution for this was to construct godowns for storage of the paddy to enable farmers to dispose of their stocks whenever the market rate was good. Mr Reddy said that the available godowns were being used by millers in most places.

He alleged that farmers were being taken for a ride by brokers, millers and all those involved in the rice trade while pointing to how the super fine variety of rice was being sold for Rs 50 per kg, which is 100 per cent more than the procurement price being paid to the farmer.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story