Bringing a huge relief to farmers, the Telangana government has decided to procure the entire paddy and maize crop being harvested directly from the farmers at minimum support price (MSP) during the lockdown period. The purchases will be done through the village procurement centres over a period of 45 days.
Announcing this to the media, chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said that the state government will spend nearly Rs 30,000 crore to procure about 1.05 crore tonne of paddy and another 14.5 lakh tonne of maize from farmers. “The market price for maize is as low as Rs 800 per quintal but the state will purchase it at MSP of Rs 1,760 per quintal.
Similarly, paddy will be procured at MSP of around Rs 1,835-1,855 per quintal,” he said. In case of millers or traders planning to purchase paddy from farmers, he insisted that they pay MSP to farmers for the entire yield. The normal area under paddy cultivation in Telangana is 17 lakh acres but this year it has more than doubled. The maize area also increased to 5.84 lakh acres against the normal 3.72 lakh acres. He said rabi crop were grown over 50 lakh acres. The paddy cultivation was taken up on 40 lakh acres which is a record. The procurement of paddy will begin in the first week of April and will continue till May 15-20.
Rao said the district coordination committees led by the respective collectors would convene a meeting and finalise the schedule for procurement of paddy, maize and other crops. The farmers maintain restraint and practice self-discipline during paddy procurement. “Tokens will be issued to each farmer to bring their produce to the local procurement centre. In case, a farmer decides to bring paddy in advance, it will not be purchased by the government. The idea is to avoid crowd which could spread coronavirus.”
The state government has asked the farmers to bring their bank passbook and account number where the amount would be transferred directly into the bank accounts of farmers at a later date. Arrangements have been made for harvesting, procurement, milling and storage of paddy. With majority of harvesting being done by harvesters, the district authorities have been directed to identify those who can mount harvesters on tractors and begin the works.
“There are only 5,000 harvesters in the state for paddy harvesting. Officials will identify them and provide necessary passes to carry forward with their work,” he said. Simultaneously, the agricultural extension officers would issue tokens to farmers based on which paddy would be procured. As against the requirement of 70 lakh gunny bags to store food grains, the state government had only 35 lakh bags and efforts were being made to obtain them from various states. Rao wanted the sarpanches and Rythu Bandhu Samithi members to take the lead and facilitate paddy and maize procurement.
Meanwhile, the chief minister said 95% of the workers in rice mills were Bihari migrants. These workers, who load and unload the rice trucks, had gone to Bihar for Holi and are now stranded.
The agriculture department officials believe the task can’t be completed without labourers from Bihar. The chief minister further reiterated department officials for supplying quality seed, fertilisers and pesticides on time to farmers. Stringent action is being taken under the Preventive Detention Act against those involved in the supply of spurious seeds, adulterated fertilisers and fake pesticides.
Telangana state is supplying 23-25 lakh tonne of the 35 lakh tonne seeds required for cultivation of various crops across the country, agriculture minister S Niranjan Reddy had said earlier.