Procurement of chana (gram) by the Central government has started in Gujarat. The Gujarat State Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited (Gujcomasol) opened 25 centres across the state on Friday, even as the procurement agency said that it was facing shortage of empty jute bags and labour.
“We formally began procurement from the procurement centre set up on the yard of the agriculture produce market committee (APMC) of Amreli. We chose Amreli as today is the foundation day of Gujarat and Dr Jivraj Mehta, the first chief minister of Gujarat, was a native of Amreli,” Gujcomasol Chairman Dilip Sanghani told The Indian Express. Sanghani further said that Savarkundla centre also became operational on Friday, while Babra centre will start procurement on Saturday.
On the request of the state government, the Centre has decided to procure chana at minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 4,875 per quintal from Gujarat. The Centre has appointed the National Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED) as the national agency for procuring the same. NAFED, in turn, has appointed Gujcomasol as the state-level agency to run procurement operations. NAFED has given approval to 96 procurement centres across the state, 44 of them in 11 districts of Saurasthra region. Gujcomasol has engaged cooperative societies and purchase-sell federations to operate these centres.
Farmers had sown gram in 3.78 lakh hectare, the second highest for any crop in the state in the Rabi season 2019-’20. Majority of this acreage was in Saurashtra.
“Due to the lockdown, there is a shortage of empty jute bags as mills from Kolkata are unable to supply. As an interim arrangement, we have purchased around 12.5 lakh jute bags from the Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (GSCSCL) and around five lakh bags from private vendors. There is also a shortage of labour and therefore, some cooperative societies — to whom we gave contracts for operating procurement centres — have not been able to start procurement,” Sanghani said. The Gujcomasol chairman added that they have been given a mandate to run procurement operations for 90 days.
“We handled 187.5 quintals of chana brought to the procurement centre by 10 farmers. Labour contractors are not willing to take contracts. Therefore, we directly engaged 10 labourers today. However, the biggest issue is jute bags. We made our own arrangement today, but we don’t have much stock,” said Lalit Gandhi, manager of Kolithad Juth Seva-Sahkari Mandali, a cooperative society which has been given contract to run gram procurement centre in Gondal.
Gandhi said that 6,500 famers from Gondal and Kotda Sangani talukas have registered to sell their chana at the Gondal centre. Incidentally, prices of chana in Gujarat APMCs are ruling around Rs 4,000, significantly lower than the MSP of Rs 4,875.
Some others said they are constrained for space. “To comply with lockdown guidelines, we need larger than usual spaces to set up the procurement centre. As auctions of vegetables, fruits, onions, potatoes and fodder takes place on the old yard of Rajkot AMPC, we don’t have much extra space. So, we shall have to take this issue up with Rajkot APMC administration. Additionally, we also have not received jute bags to store gram,” an officer of Rajkot-Lodhika Kharid-Vechan Sangh, a cooperative federation which has been engaged to run Rajkot and Padadhari centres said.
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