TO AVOID exploitation of farmers by traders, the state government has directed the administration to begin operations at procurement centres by mid-October, as the kharif harvest is ready.
State Minister for Cooperation and Markets Balasaheb Patil, who held review meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday to assess preparations, warned officials against any delay in setting up the centres.
“The process for farmer registration at procurement centres should start from October 1 and procurement of crop should start from October 15,” Patil said.
The department has urged the district and taluka centres to widely circulate the information and notify farmers through WhatsApp or SMS.
Total area under kharif production, including cereals, soybean, oils and sugarcane, is 152.75 lakh hectares. Although it has increased from last year’s 149.61 lakh hectares, officials have estimated crop production could be hit up to minimum of 5 per cent due to natural calamities. The process of ascertaining overall kharif production is still underway.
Patil said the soybean crop sown on 41 lakh hectares yielded 53 lakh metric tonnes, whereas the cotton cultivated on 42 lakh hectares was expected to produce 450 lakh quintals.
In the wake of higher cotton production, Cotton Corporation of India and its sub-agent, Maharashtra State Cooperative Cotton Growers Marketing Federation, have to set up centres next month.
Last season, almost 40 lakh farmers were forced to sell cotton at a lower price to private traders or retain their stock, which was unsold due to non-operation of centres. Lockdown imposed due to the spread of Covid-19 had brought entire procurement centres to a grinding halt between March and August.
Even as the pandemic rages, with restrictions across districts, the state government has urged the administration to prepare a detailed plan for procurement process to be undertaken in a phased manner in smaller groups.
Patil said instead of the conventional ad-hoc method, in which farmers land with their produce at centres, they should get specific date and time so as to decongest the venue, and that every farmer wanting to sell the produce would have to come with Aadhar card and 7/12 agriculture land records.
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