The Telangana state government has began procuring paddy crop produce at over 5,000 market yards, special paddy purchasing centres and Indira Kranti Patham (IKP) centres. However, farmers are raising concerns over the lack of facilities at such centres and delay in the procurement process.
During the Rabi or Yasangi season, paddy was sowed in 52 lakh acres in the state and over 1.32 metric tons of crop is expected to be harvested this time. The state government has assured that it will procure about 80 metric tons of crop to lower the burden of the farmers amid a raging second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
While majority of the procurement centres are operational, farmers are complaining that they had to wait from five to twenty days near the centres to sell their produce due to the delay in the procurement process. Further, the farmers are saying that they are not getting paid for 3 kg for every paddy bag (44 kg) at the centres due to deductions in the name of substandard crops.
Meanwhile, untimely rains in the past few days in several parts of Telangana have damaged hundreds of tons of crop produce brought to the paddy procurement centres. On Tuesday, heavy rains in Nalgonda, Peddapalli and Mahabubnagar districts damaged paddy waiting to be procured at the centres.
The state government has assured farmers organisations that it would procure the damaged crop from the farmers, said T Sagar of Telangana Rythu Samithi. “But, there are no proper facilities for the farmers to protect their crop from rainfall near the procurement centres. Farmers would have to dry their crop and wait for several weeks to sell their crop in such instances,” he said.
“Delay in procurement process and the transportation costs are burdening the farmers, a problem persisting for years,” said Sagar.
Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee Secretary G Madhusudan Reddy warned of an agitation against the Telangana Rashtra Samithi if the problems at the procurement centres are not addressed.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Reddy said, “Farmers, who were bringing their agricultural produce to the market yards and procurement centres were forced to stay for days and weeks. As there is no one to come forward to buy their produce in market yards, they are at the mercy of agriculture officials and market officials and literally begging them to buy the produce. But neither the officials nor TRS leaders are heeding their problems and citing silly reasons like lack of gunny bags, lack of lorries for transporting etc and halting procurement process.”
Telangana government is providing a Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 1,881 for paddy crop.
Kandula Raju, who recently sold his crop produce in a procurement centre in Warangal complains about lack of facilities at the procurement centres. “The farmers are forced to stay near the centre for several days due to the delay in procurement. But, there are no basic facilities like tents for shelter. They are not even providing material to cover the crop in untimely rains,” he said.
“MSP is not being realised as there is a cut in payment in the name of substandard crop although the crop is of best quality,” said Raju.
“After selling their crop at the procurement centres, farmers are burdened with the task of transporting the produce to mills or storage centres. With scarcity in the availability of lorries or tractors, transportation charges and delay in unloading the produce at the mills are further causing problems to the farmers,” said Sagar.
The state government has imposed a 10-day complete lockdown from May12 to contain the spread of COVID-19 but has directed the officials to ensure that the procurement centres are operated uninterrupted.