Farmers were edgy about fair average quality (FAQ) parameters as groundnut procurement by the government continued across the state on the second day, Friday.
Pravinsinh Jadeja, a farmer from Suki Sajadiyali village in Rajkot taluka of Rajkot district, held his breath as technicians weighed nuts obtained from a sample of 200 grammes of groundnut-in-shell drawn from a consignment he had brought to a procurement centre on sub-yard of agriculture produce market committee (APMC) in Rajkot. The technician emptied one dish of peanuts in the tray of digital scale and then the second. The display panel flashed 135 grammes and Jadeja heaved a sigh of relief. His groundnut sample had crossed the norm of nut weight of 130 grammes.
“This year, the rain was scanty and irrigation water was limited. I gave three irrigation to my groundnut crop. The crop needed three more irrigation cycles but I couldn’t as there was no water in my open well and borewells. Therefore, the yield as well as quality of the produce is not best hence I was concerned about the sample,” 35-year-old Jadeja explained his anxiety.
Jadeja and his parents cumulatively own 100 bigha (16 hectare land). They had sown groundnut in around 35 bigha of them. “Due to shortage of irrigation water, the yield this year is hardly three quintals per bigha as compared to around five quintals last year,” said the farmer.
Damji Vora, a farmer from Devgam in Lodhikha taluka of Rajkot district, had similar worries while waiting for his sample to be tested. “I am little concerned about my groundnut clearing the weight test. Due to shortage of irrigation, nuts have not grown to their usual size and could weigh less therefore,” says the 57-year-old farmer. Vora also says that his yield has dropped this year. “Last year, I had harvested 50 quintals. But this year, I will be happy if my total harvest weighs 20 quintals,” he said. He added that he has already spent Rs 45,000 on growing the groundnut. “If we consider
Rs 100 per day as labour, we would be eligible to get Rs 72,000 towards our labour for the year. If my groundnut consignment indeed weighs 20 quintals, the government will pay me Rs 1 lakh. That will mean only Rs 5,500 towards labour for us,” he said.
Jitu Sankharva, a farmer from Pipardi village who had come with a truckload of groundnut harvested from his and his parents 16 hectare land, went through some nervous moments when samples of his produce were being tested. But he was a relaxed man once the sample was cleared.
A farmer from Lodhika got worried after his samples cleared FAQ norms but sufficient quantity of groundnut could not be packed in a bag. But A C Prajapati, mamlatdar of Lodhika who was supervising procurement, asked him not to worry and ordered labourers to try packing groundnut in another batch of jute bags. “His produce meets FAQ norms but it seems groundnut shells are larger and therefore labourers are unable to pack 35 kg of groundnut-in-shell in a bag,” Prajapati said.
But some farmers said they have already sold their groundnut in open market. “We could not irrigate our groundnut crop sufficiently and therefore produce was not of good quality. Therefore, my father sold it in Rajkot APMC at Rs 3,750 per quintal,” said Mukesh Sakariya, a farmer from Sal Pipaliya village.
To assess FAQ, a 200 gramm sample of groundnut bold has to have minimum 130 grammes of peanuts. Moisture content should not be more than eight per cent and impurities must not exceed two per cent.
The government is procuring groundnut directly from farmers at an effective minimum support price of Rs 5,000 per quintal. Prices of the oilseed in APMCs, however, is ruling around Rs 4,250 only. The government has intervened in the market and is making physical procurement of the oilseed to protect farmers.
“On the opening day, we procured groundnut from around 80 farmers and produce of only two farmers was rejected after their samples couldn’t meet FAQ. But, no sample was rejected today. Also, packing 35 kg groundnut in a bag is not a FAQ parameter this year and therefore no consignment was rejected on that groundnut,” said Om Prakash, SDM of Rajkot (rural), who is coordinator for two procurement centres.