Pro-farmer policies work wonders as procurement rises

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: May 25 2012, 06:07am hrs
Indias grain output has scaled new heights in the last couple of years. Most of this success could be attributed to the policies framed by the government to support the income of farmers. Most discernible is the rise in production of rice and wheat in traditionally laggard states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

In the case of MP, for instance, wheat production has gone up to an estimated 11 million tonne (mt) in crop year 2012-13 (July-June) from just over 7 mt last year. An unprecedented stepping up of procurement, enabled by an additional R100 per quintal state-government offering over the Centres minimum support price of R1,285 and the use of mobile telephony to give alert to farmers on when they can sell their produce, has spurred wheat production in the state.

Chhattisgarh, too, has significantly stepped up rice procurement, contributing more than 60% of its annual output to the central pool. During 2010-11 (Sept-Oct), the state procured 3.7 mt against the production of 6.1 mt. In the current kharif marketing season (2011-12), Chhattisgarh has already lifted more than 4.1 mt.

During the last five years, Orissa has contributed more than a third of its rice production to the central pool. Andhra Pradesh, the biggest rice producer, has contributed more than 66% of its produce to the central procurement drive in the last few years. During 2011-12, Andhra Pradesh has procured more than 6.5 mt rice till now against a 14 mt output. In the previous year, AP contributed 9.6 mt rice to the central purchase drive.

A bumper output due to cooler climate earlier this year, bonus to farmers besides the minimum support price and direct payment through savings bank accounts and specialised SMS services have led to MP coming close to displacing Haryana as the second biggest contributor to countrys wheat procurement.

While wheat purchase by stated-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) is about to be completed in Punjab and Haryana, officials from the MP State Civil Supplies Corporation are busy purchasing grain from farmers and the operations are likely to continue till the month end.

On Wednesday, as the total wheat procurement by FCI and state agencies crossed this years target of 31.8 mt, MP had already contributed more than 6.8 mt..The target for this year would be close to 8 mt, Chandra Has Dubey, MD, MP State Civil Supplies Corporation told FE.

While MP purchased 5 mt wheat from farmers last year, incentives offered by state government could push the procurement level to close to 8 mt, a jump of 60%, placing the state just behind Haryana as the third biggest contributor to the wheat procurement drive. Haryana has contributed 8.5 mt to the central wheat procurement drive this year, which is 65% of the total production. Till now, MP has lifted 6.7 mt wheat, which is about 64% of its production. Punjab continues to lead with a record 12.6 mt contribution to the FCIs grain purchase drive, which is 77% of the states production..

We have been providing bonus to wheat farmers for the last few years and we want to become the single biggest contributor of wheat to the central pool in the next few years, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had recently told FE.

Under the present system of procurement, farmers are paid directly through banks, thus removing the middlemen from the process. More than 2,300 primary agriculture credit societies (PACS), in collaboration with the civil supplies department, carry out the procurement of wheat under the FCIs decentralised scheme.

Farmers are also being informed through SMSes about wheat procurement, which is cutting down on the time taken for the purchase by state government agencies.