New Delhi: Amid lockdown for to contain the spread of novel coronavirus or COVID-19, farmers in Telangana are worried over irregularities in the ongoing paddy crop procurement process.
Farmers’ organisations have alleged that during the procurement process, rice millers and government authorities are allegedly depreciating the weight of paddy in the name of moisture, wastage and poor quality of the crop, thereby reducing the price, causing them losses at a time when they are already struggling with the impact of the virus on markets.
As proposed in March, the state government, run by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), recently began paddy procurement from farmers at 7,700 procurement centres across the state. According to state government estimations, Telangana has produced over 90 lakh tonnes of paddy in the rabi season, the highest ever production in the state’s record.
As per government rules, officials at the procurement centres are supposed to buy paddy crop with an exception of moisture in the crop up to 17%, at a minimum support price of Rs 1,835 per 100 kg for A- grade crop and Rs 1,815 per kg for regular crop. However, farmers allege that they are being directed to rice millers, who are reducing the price of the crop by depreciating the weight of the crop, citing moisture as a reason.
Telugu daily, Eenadu, on Saturday reported that farmers were complaining that they were facing a loss of Rs 10 kg value for every 100 kg of paddy crop at the procurement centres, as the rice millers were depreciating the weight. Such instances have been reported in procurement centres in Nizamabad, Kamareddy, Karimnagar, Siricilla, Jagityal, Peddapalli, Warangal, Bhupalpally, Warangal Urban, Mulugu, Mahaboobnagar, Khammam and Badradri districts.
“Of the 622 bags (40 kg per bag) of paddy produced, I had to face a loss of 12 bags during the procurement process,” Erram Ganga Narsaiah, who sold his paddy crop at a procurement centre in Siricilla last week, told Newsclick.
Narsaiah said the crop was being weighed twice, once by government officials and later at the rice mills where the crop is transported. Reportedly, government officials are handing over the paddy to rice millers at an agreement of Rs 60 kg rice in return for every 100 kg paddy.
In a press statement, the Telangana Raitanga Samithi, demanded that the government rectify the “irregularities” during the procurement process.
“While there are discrepancies in the name of humidity and quality during the procurement resulting in massive losses, in several districts the procurement has not even begun. If process continues at this pace, the procurement will continue till June end,” Saianna of Telangana Raitanga Samithi told Newsclick. He said the government should also compensate farmers whose produce got damaged due to untimely rainfall.
Besides paddy, the state government should also begin procuring maize, pulses, and chilli crop due to disruptions in the agriculture markets following the lockdown, Sagar, state secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, told Newsclick.
“With the lockdown in place, the farmers are facing difficulties in storing and selling their produce. The government needs to immediately set up separate procurement centres for other crops, such as chilli and maize to support the farmers,” he said.