The Paddy procurement in Chhattisgarh is set to resume in full swing with the Congress-led state government announcing a sharp hike in minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 2,500/quintal from Rs 1,750/quintal, a senior Food Ministry official said Tuesday.
The state is expected to even surpass the procurement target of 55 lakh tonnes of rice set for this year as farmers from the neighbouring states Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are keen to sell their produce in Chhattisgarh taking advantage of the higher support price, the official added.
Paddy growers in Chhattisgarh and neighbouring states had suddenly stopped selling their produce to the government agencies in anticipation of the implementation of MSP hike poll promise made by the Congress.
As per the official data, the Chhattisgarh government has purchased 21.60 lakh tonnes of rice so far, while the target is to buy 55 lakh tonnes in the ongoing 2018-19 marketing year (October-September).
Immediately after taking oath as chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Bhupesh Baghel had yesterday announced hike in the MSP of paddy to Rs 2,500 per quintal for this year.
“Only one third of the paddy has been procured so far. With the increase in the MSP, the paddy procurement will resume and will pick up pace in the coming days,” the official told PTI.
At such high rates, procurement will surpass the target as paddy growers not only from the state but from neighbouring states are expected to bring their produce for the sale, the official said.
Asked if the central government will bear the cost, the official said, “there is no communication on this issue as of now. Otherwise, the presumption is that the state government will bear the cost. However as a matter of policy, the hike in paddy MSP is not good as it will distort the market.”
The outgoing BJP government in Chhattisgarh had also announced a bonus of Rs 200 per quintal over and above the MSP of Rs 1,750 per quintal, taking the total support price to Rs 1,950 for this year.
However, the central government has given exemption to bear the cost for procurement of only boiled rice of up to 24 lakh tonnes in the current year. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where 60 per cent of the paddy buying is over, will complete the paddy procurement operation by end of this month.
The paddy buying in eastern states such as Bihar and West Bengal normally starts from January. So far, the government’s paddy procurement has reached 204 lakh tonnes across the country, while the target is 375 lakh tonnes for the current marketing year.
The government had procured 381.8 lakh tonnes during the last marketing year. The paddy is procured at the minimum support price (MSP). State-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state agencies undertake procurement operation.