Updated: March 24, 2021 3:27:41 am
PRAVIN BHOJANI, a farmer, smiled wryly and started loading chana (gram) onto a pickup truck after labourers at a government procurement centre on the old yard of Rajkot Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) in Rajkot refused to weigh it, saying his quota of 10 quintals was exhausted.
In an adjoining procurement centre for Rajkot taluka, Mahesh Rokad, another farmer, stood somewhat lost as labourers weighed and bagged the consignment of chana he had brought to sell to the government at a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 5,100 per quintal. Pravin Ramani, a third farmer at the procurement centre, sat rather lazily, as staff of the centre prepared a bill for 10 quintals chana he had brought.
A majority of farmers, including Bhojani, Rokad, and Ramani, had to leave a significant quantity of their harvest at their home while transporting only specified quantity to the procurement centres opened by Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation (GSCSC), an undertaking of the Gujarat government, on behalf of the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed), as the central government has capped gram to be procured per farmer at 10 quintals. Farmers are saddled with extra produce as prices in the open market are lower.
“I received an SMS yesterday asking me to cart only 50 mann (five quintals) chana to the procurement centre here though my total harvest from 19 bigha (around three hectares) land is 200 mann (20 quintals). APMCs are offering only around Rs 930 per mann, whereas the government is giving Rs 1,020. Therefore, I wanted to ensure that I utilise my full quota, hence I loaded a few mann more on the truck even if that meant that I may have to take this five mann back,” 48-year-old Bhojani, a farmer from Khambhala village of Rajkot district’s Paddhari taluka, said.
Rokad, from Halenda, a village around 40 km east of Rajkot, was happier. “I am happy that my turn has come to sell my 30 quintal chana to the government. But I am concerned about what I will get for the 10 quintal chana lying at my home, and which the government is not going to procure, citing quota limit,” the 31-year-old farmer, whose family owns total of nine-hectare land, said.
For Ramani, who owns 1.5-hectare farmland in Rajkot taluka’s Sajadiali Lili village, troubles are similar yet complex. “I harvested around 12 quintals of chana two weeks ago. The quota of 10 quintals for government procurement means I will have to sell the remaining two quintals in the open market. But Rajkot APMC is flooded with chana and is allowing farmers to unload their produce on its yard only once a week. This means I will have to wait for selling the remaining quantity, with no certainty about the price that I may eventually get,” said the farmer, who has studied till class 12. State government officers agree 10-quintal quota per farmer introduced this year in chana procurement by the Centre through Nafed might be causing inconvenience to growers.
“Generally, the government procures maximum of 25 quintals per farmer. But in the ongoing 2021-22 procurement season, 3.81 lakh farmers have registered themselves to sell their chana to the government, while the central government has allotted Gujarat quota of procuring only 3.06 lakh tonnes (lt) chana. As there is a sizable difference between the Rs 5,100 MSP and the market rate, assuming around three lakh farmers bring their chana to government procurement centres, we can procure only 10 quintals from each farmer if we wanted to extend the benefit of MSP procurements under government’s price support scheme (PSS) to a maximum number of farmers,” a senior government official said. Chana acreage in the Rabi 2020-21 season was 8.19 lakh hectare (lh), more than double the previous season’s 3.78 lh and around 293 per cent of the previous three years’ average of 2.91 lh.
Procurement processes this year began on March 8. As of March 19, Nafed data states, 12,614 tonnes (10 quintals make one tonne) chana was procured from 13,052 farmers in the state.
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh had staged protests in Rajkot against the government lowering the quota to 10 quintals, irrespective of the total land holding of a farmer or his crop area. Government officers say they have learnt their lessons from the 2020-21 Rabi procurement season when Gujarat exhausted its quota of procuring around 80 tonnes of chana within days of the beginning of procurement operations.
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