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Assam Govt Falls Short of Nearly 40% of Paddy Procurement Target

Central agencies “under-performed”, says Minister.
Assam Govt Falls Short of Nearly 40% of Paddy Procurement Target

 Assamese women busy in planting paddy seedlings in their agricultural field in Pahukata village in Nagaon district of Assam, India. Image Courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons

Guwahati: The Assam government has fallen short by nearly 40% to meet the target set for procurement of paddy at Minimum Support Price (MSP) from its farmers for 2021-22, state Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ranjeet Kumar Dass said here on Saturday.

While the two state agencies involved in paddy procurement performed well, the bodies under the Central government "under-performed", he said.

Addressing a press conference, Dass said, "We had set a target of procurement of 10 lakh MT paddy from farmers for the Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022.

"We had been able to buy 5,65,278 MT, which comes to 56.35%, during the year," the minister said.

He said while the percentage of the target achieved may seem low, in terms of quantity the state has performed much better compared with previous years.

Dass said, "Paddy procurement from farmers by government agencies has been low in the state. In the previous KMS, it was only 2.22 lakh MT. We have now started putting thrust on it and we expect the figures to increase substantially soon."

"In fact, we have set a target of procuring 24 lakh MT by 2026, which will enable us to meet our requirement under National Food Security Act and ensure incentives for the state government from the Centre also," the minister added.

He said the target of buying 10 lakh MT paddy has been set once again for this KMS, though the government is in a position to increase its intake manifold if farmers come forward to sell.

Of the six agencies engaged in buying the paddy, the two under the state government – Assam Food and Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd (AFCSCL) and Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB) – have performed well, meeting 100.37% and 91.60%, respectively, of the target set for them in terms of procurement.

While Food Corporation of India (FCI) achieved 43.45% of its target, the other three agencies’ success rates ranged from 36.57% to 47.50%.

On the low procurement by FCI and other central agencies, Dass said, "We are reviewing the matter with them. We have asked them to improve their performance."

"For them, paddy procurement is business as usual, but for the state government agencies, the focus is much more as it will benefit our people," he maintained.

Except for the FCI, the other three Central agencies function as federation of cooperatives and have to limit themselves to buying the produce of the cooperatives registered under them, which also serves as a restrain, the minister added.

On overall low procurement, Dass said lack of awareness was a major issue for farmers of the state.

"The MSP by the government was Rs 1,940 per quintal last season, and has been increased to Rs 2,040 per quintal this year. In the open market, they get about Rs 1100-1200 per quintal. We have been reaching out to them to come forward and sell to the government agencies for better price realisation," the minister said.

He claimed that the registration process for selling to government agencies has also been simplified and the latter are willing to buy even one quintal of paddy from a farmer.

"Our intention is to benefit the farmers, and for that we are willing to extend help in every possible manner," Dass added.

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