The Centre on Friday said that delaying the paddy procurement from Punjab and Haryana to October 11 is in the “overall interest of farmers and consumers as well”,
“Because of the untimely rains, maturity of paddy grains is delayed. As per Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) data, rainfall during September 2021 is 77 per cent and 139 per cent above normal in Punjab and Haryana respectively,” a release from the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution said.
Punjab and Haryana witnessed widespread rainfall during second fortnight of September, and these untimely showers have affected the standing paddy crop in both agrarian states. The maximum temperature at most of the places has also been recorded below normal due to downpour. Again, there was heavy downpour on September 29 and 30 in some parts of Punjab and Haryana, the release said.
The Ministry had, on Thursday, announced postponement of the procurement and milling period for kharif marketing season (KMS) 2021-22, which were October 1 for Punjab and September 25 for Haryana.
The decision was prompted also because the Haryana government wrote to the Department of Food & Public Distribution under the Ministry, intimating it about the untimely rain and requesting relaxation in date owing to the moisture content in the paddy.
On the basis of moisture content check by Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) Regional Offices at Punjab and Haryana, it was reported that paddy samples are having moisture ranging from 18 per cent to 22 per cent in Punjab and 18.2 per cent to 22.7 per cent in Haryana against the permissible limit of 17 per cent.
“Accordingly, to save farmers from inconvenience and to protect farmers’ interest, government of India decided that procurement of paddy under MSP operation would commence from October 11 in Punjab and Haryana,” the release added.
Procurement of paddy at high moisture content is fraught with risk of increase in damage percentage of rice grain. Also, the grain will become vulnerable to shrivelling, blackening, discolouration, and prone to infestation. This may lead to rejection at procurement centres and would lead to distress sale of paddy and consequent loss to the farmers, it said.
The better course would be to harvest the paddy crop after a period of 10 days i.e., after proper maturity, then the problem of moisture in the paddy grain can be minimised.
Accordingly, state governments of Punjab and Haryana have also been requested to advise their agencies to dry the paddy already arrived and further produce may be brought to the mandi after proper drying.
“The decision to start the procurement of paddy under MSP from October 11 in Punjab and Haryana is in the overall interest of farmers and consumers as well so as to accept paddy stock as per FAO specifications to ensure quality procurement for millions of consumers under PDS for the National Food Security Programme. However, moisture content is the main determining factor,” the release added.