To support the farmers against falling prices, the Centre has started groundnut procurement after Diwali, on request of the Gujarat government, through the National Agriculture Cooperative Marketing Federation (Nafed). However, a big challenge that has come up in front of the governments is the lack of storage and fear of damage in quality. According to procurement agency Nafed, in the present scenario, government will have to face loss. On the other hand, there is also the issue of disposal of huge stock of groundnut. Groundnut production in Gujarat is expected to touch a record high of 3.2 million tonnes this year. For the farmers’ interest, the Gujarat government had asked the central government to procure one million tonne groundnut from the state. However, the Centre has given approval for 8 lakh tonnes to the Nafed. The federation had set up over 200 procurement centres across Gujarat and within three months it has procured about 7.78 lakh tonnes groundnut and the rest will be procured in next two days.
The local agencies appointed by the state government to procure groundnut on behalf of Nafed have collectively procured about 7.76 lakh tonnes of groundnut worth Rs 3,495 crore as on January 18. Last year, Nafed had procured about 2.25 lakh tonnes from the state. Nafed has decided to close all the procurement centres once it gets 8 lakh tonnes. Though, the state government has urged the central government to procure 4 lakh tonnes more groundnut. “We will stop procurement as we are about to complete the given target. Procurement is not an issue for us but we are unable to get godowns or warehouses to store groundnut. The produce is for human consumption and we have no proper storage available which maintain the quality. If government tells us, we will start procurement again,” said V R Patel, chairman of Nafed. “Government procuring groundnut at the rate of Rs 900 per 20 kg while the same is traded at Rs 650-800 per 20 kg in open markets. Including one lakh tonnes of carryforward, we have more than 9 lakh tonnes groundnut stock lying with us and the biggest challenge is how to dispose this huge stock?
“It is sure that when we will go to sell this, it will be a loss making business for government,” he added. After the report, the Gujarat government has moved forward and said that groundnut procurement will continue. Agriculture minister R C Faldu at Navsari Agriculture University announced that procurement will continue and farmers need not worry about it. Faldu said, “Government will not stop groundnut procurement and all 137 centres are open till the last sack of the commodity. We understand the hard work done by farmers and the government will not let them down.”