GROUNDNUT PROCUREMENT at the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 4,500 per quintal will continue in Gujarat after the Centre directed the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED) to procure additional one lakh metric tonnes of the oilseed from the state. NAFED has already procured around eight lakh metric tonnes of groundnut in the ongoing season.
“The government has directed us to procure additional one lakh metric tonnes of groundnut from Gujarat. Initially, we were asked to complete this quota by February 10. However, making procurement centres compliant with new norms took some time and therefore, we have not been able to achieve the target. Consequently, the procurement will go on till we achieve the target,” Patel told The Indian Express on Tuesday.
NAFED, the apex cooperative body of marketing agricultural commodities in the country, had started procuring groundnut from Gujarat on October 25, the day the Election Commission announced the dates for the Assembly polls in the state. Initially, the Centre had asked NAFED to procure four lakh metric tonnes of groundnut in 90 days. However, after a request by the Gujarat government, the Centre increased the procurement quota to eight lakh metric tonnes. As of February 9, NAFED had procured 8.08 lakh metric tonnes of groundnut, worth over Rs 3,636 crore, from 4.17 lakh farmers in Gujarat.
Out of the eight lakh metric tonnes, around 6.30 lakh metric tonnes or roughly 78 per cent was procured from farmers of Saurashtra, which accounts for the majority of production of groundnut in the state.
“The government has made the procurement process more rigorous, and has made it compulsory to install CCTV cameras at the procurement centres. We have asked GUJCOT (Gujarat Cooperative Cotton Federation Limited) to continue procuring groundnut on behalf of us,” Patel further said.
Incidentally, around 4,758 tonnes of groundnut worth Rs 28 crore was gutted after a government-run warehouse near Gondal town in Rajkot district caught fire on January 30.
The Opposition Congress has alleged conspiracy behind the fire, accusing the agencies of procuring sub-standard quality of groundnut. A similar incident of fire was reported at another government-run godown near Gandhidham town in Kutch district around a month ago.
According to the government estimates, the groundnut production in the state will remain around 32 lakh metric tonnes. Though the area under groundnut cultivation has increased marginally, an overall good monsoon helped farmers to harvest a bumper crop.
As market prices hovered at around Rs 3,500 to Rs 3,700 per quintal, the BJP government in the state announced Rs 50 per quintal bonus over and above the Rs 4,450 MSP declared by the Centre, ahead of the Assembly polls. This took the effective MSP to Rs 4,500 even as government announced that it will intervene in the market to ensure remunerative prices to farmers.