Low paddy prices temporary, farmers income being given a boost: UP minister

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January 7, 2021 1:45 AM

The Uttar Pradesh government sees the current low prices of paddy in the open market as a temporary phenomenon caused by sluggish demand for the grain after the free food grain distribution through ration shops for eight months under Atmanirbhar Bharat plan.

Uttar Pradesh is country’s second-largest rice producer after West Bengal with annual production at 130-135 lakh tonne, a notch higher than Punjab.

The Uttar Pradesh government sees the current low prices of paddy in the open market as a temporary phenomenon caused by sluggish demand for the grain after the free food grain distribution through ration shops for eight months under Atmanirbhar Bharat plan. However, several measures taken by the government in the past four years will help achieve the target of doubling farmers’ income, said state’s agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi.

In several districts such as Badaun, Lakhimpur, Maharajganj, Fatehpur and Etawah farmers are selling paddy at Rs 1,400-1,500 per quintal in mandis run by agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) while the rates are even lower outside the mandis, at Rs 1100-1200, said farmer leaders. However, the state’s average price of paddy-common was Rs 1,834/quintal in December against its minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,868/quintal, a 2% drop.

The higher average price was due to several higher varieties of non-basmati paddy also sold under the ‘common’ category in data compilation. The other category is basmati paddy.

“We have already purchased about 50 lakh tonne of paddy, so far and last year the total was about 57 lakh tonne (about 38 lakh tonne in terms of rice). The procurement will continue until January 15 in western UP and till February 15 in other parts of the state. We are preparing to buy 60 lakh tonne this year. But, unless there is an increase in demand, prices do not go up. The prices will go up when more exports will take place and export can go up only when farmers start growing for that purpose,” Shahi told FE. The farm laws will help improve the quality of products which will boost exports, he said.

Uttar Pradesh is country’s second-largest rice producer after West Bengal with annual production at 130-135 lakh tonne, a notch higher than Punjab. But the crop area under paddy in UP is nearly double than that of Punjab, which points to wider scope in crop diversification by raising the productivity of paddy in the existing area of cultivation.

“There is a need for diversification and also need for growing multiple crops. We have taken several steps such as the distribution of improved seeds to farmers. There is a greater need to disseminate this kind information to more farmers,” the minister said.

The state has given 50% subsidy on as much as 8 lakh quintal seeds in 2020, he said. This initiative also helped the kharif crop area in Bundelkhand region to increase to 13 lakh hectares from 8-9 lakh hectare 3-4 years back, he added.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday launched a programme – Kisan Kalyan Mission – a day-long exhibition to be held in three phases in all the 825 blocks by January 21. The programme is mainly aimed at countering the farmers’ resentment against the three farm laws following the on-going protest at different entry points of Delhi. But, Shahi denied any such political motive, though admitted that the plan to hold such gatherings at block level was conceived after the December 25 virtual address by prime minister Narendra Modi, which was organized at the district level. The objective behind holding these day-long exhibitions is to ensure how farmers get the benefits of all schemes, the minister added.

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