In an impetus for Gujarat farmers, the Central government Monday approved further procurement of 70,000 metric tonnes of gram (chana) from the state at the minimum support price (MSP). The move has taken the quota up to 5.36 lakh metric tonnes (lt) this season.
Meanwhile, the state government said if need be, it will make its own procurement of chana to ensure that each of the 3.38 lakh farmers who have registered will get an opportunity to sell their produce to the government at higher than market rates.
“Today, we received a communication from the Central government, intimating us that it has increased the quota of gram procurement from Gujarat to 5.36 lakh tonnes. We thank the Central government for this augmentation of quota. The enhanced quota will give all farmers, who have got themselves registered, an opportunity to sell their gram to the government at MSP,” Raghavji Patel, state Agriculture Minister told The Indian Express.
“If needed, my ministry has proposed that the state government procure 25000 MT of gram from farmers and distribute among the poor through fair price shops running as part of the public distribution system,” Patel said, adding the proposal was pending at the highest levels in the government.
The state government has not made physical procurement of gram from farmers in years. The decision comes ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections scheduled later this year.
In February this year, in response to a request by the state government, the Central government had given approval to procure 4,65,818 metric tonnes of gram from Gujarat farmers at the MSP of Rs 5,230 per quintal (10 quintals make one metric tonnes)—the highest ever procurement quota allotted to the state for the pulse. The decision came on the back of farmers planting the pulse crop in a record 11.32 lakh hectare (lh) area in the rabi season 2021-22. The acreage represented 25 per cent increase over 8.16 lh chana acreage recorded in the previous rabi season and around 67 per cent higher compared to 4.66 lakh average gram acreage recorded over the preceding three seasons.
The Second Advance Estimates released by the state government in February this year had pegged gram production in Gujarat at 24.90 lakh tonnes (lt), almost a million tonnes more than 14.37 lt recorded in 2020-21.
The augmentation of Gujarat quota comes when National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed) was on the verge of utilising the 4.65 lt quota. As of 8 pm Monday, Nafed, which has been appointed the national nodal agency by the Central government for procuring crops under the price support scheme (PSS), had procured 4.32 lt gram from Gujarat.
Of the 3.38 lakh registered farmers, SMS alerts were sent to 2.65 lakh and of them, 2.15 lakh had sold their gram to the government, said Dinesh Suthar, chief executive of Gujarat State Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited (Gujcomasol).
Nafed has engaged Gujcomasol as state-level agency (SLA) for operating 119 gram procurement centres opened in Gujarat.
While only about 3,300 MT of the quota is left unutilised as of Monday evening, 73,691 farmers were still awaiting their turn to cart their gram to procurement centres.
Allaying farmers’ fears, the minister said: “We are hopeful that the augmentation of quota by the Centre to 5.36 lt will be sufficient.” In case the farmers have a better harvest and they bring the maximum amount of gram to the procurement centre, he said the state government’s plan to procure 25,000 MT of gram on its own at MSP will ensure that each farmer who has registered himself gets an opportunity to sell his produce to the government in quantities prescribed at the start of the procurement operations in March this year. “No farmer will suffer any cuts in per-farmer procurable quota,” said Patel.
The state government is procuring a maximum of 1.25 MT gram per hectare with an upper limit of two hectares in one revenue survey number of land. Thus, a farmer owning two hectares of land bearing one survey number will be able to sell 2.5 MT to the government at MSP.
However, if a farmer owns another land parcel bearing a different revenue survey number, he will be able to sell additional quantities of gram proportionate to his land-holding and sowing area.
Officers of the agriculture department said that as of Sunday, gram worth Rs 2,215 crore had been procured from Gujarat and that farmers had already been paid Rs 1,062 crore.