Procurement of gram (chana) and mustard by the state government is yet to gather momentum as Gujarat State Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited (Gujcomasol) has been able to open only 16 procurement centres in the first week of operations as cooperative societies are finding it difficult to mobilise labourers amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to data available with National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED), only 16 procurement centres were operational in the state as of Thursday. They include five in Amreli district, two each in Rajkot and Jamnagar districts and one each in Patan, Devbhumi Dwarka, Surendranagar, Mahisagar, Junagadh, Gir Somnath and Porbandar. Barring Patan and Mahisagar centres, the remaining 14 are in Saurashtra region, the major chana growing region of the state.
Chana procurement at the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 4,875 per quintal had kicked off in the state on May 1. Central government has appointed NAFED as the nodal agency to make procurement of chana under the former’s price support scheme (PSS). NAFED has appointed Gujcomasol as the state level agency to make the procurement in Gujarat by setting up 96 procurement centres. In turn Gujcomasol, has given contracts to cooperative societies and cooperative unions to run the procurement centres by offering them one per cent commission on the value of chana they procure.
“We have been able to open only a limited number of procurement centres as a number of cooperative societies are finding it difficult to mobilise labour due to lockdown. While we have given contracts for all the 96 procurement centres, many cooperative societies have been unable to start operations,” Gujcomasol Chairman Dilip Sanghani told The Indian Express on Thursday.
Sanghani said that Gujcomasol will give cooperative societies some more time before taking a call whether to terminate contracts signed with them.
Just like chana, procurement of mustard seed has also got off to a very slow start with Gujcomasol managing to operationalise only four out of 14 procurement centres. The cooperative body has so far procured 111.65 quintal mustard seeds from 53 farmers. MSP for mustard seeds is Rs4425 per quintal this year.
As many as 1,48,722 farmers have registered with NAFED for selling their gram and 31,155 for selling their mustard. However, NAFED data showed that the 16 procurement centres had been able to procure 1070.30 quintals of gram from 556 farmers only.
But Sanghani said that Gujcomasol have enough time to procure the mandated quota. “We have 90 days to procure chana from farmers. That is enough time. Once the operations are streamlined, every procurement centre would call average 50 farmers per day,” he said.
Incidentally, prices of chana in agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) is hovering around Rs 4,000 per quintal, significantly low as compared the Rs 4,875 MSP offered by the government.
When the procurement began, a few centres had also complained of shortage of jute bags to pack gram. As only a handful of centres are operating, empty jute bags is not a problem, said Sanghani.
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