Amid protests by farmers against the new farm laws, the government on Wednesday fielded top bureaucrats to allay concerns about the minimum support price (MSP), and announced that approximately Rs 1.40 lakh crore is “projected” to be paid to nearly 1.57 crore paddy farmers during the ongoing kharif marketing season.
“MSP poorv mein bhee thee, vartamaan mein bhee hai, aur bhavishya mein bhee rahegee (MSP was there in the past, it is in the present, and will remain in future),” Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal said in response to a query during a press conference.
He said, “The government, for the first time, has started procurement from September 26 and the number of procurement centres has also been increased. Therefore, there will be procurement on MSP.”
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, Textile Secretary Ravi Capoor and Food Corporation of India CMD D V Prasad were also present in the press conference, organised to brief about the kharif marketing season 2020-21 and MSP procurement.
Pandey said, “We distribute around 550 lakh tonnes of foodgrains — wheat and rice – across the country under PDS. It comes from where procurement based on MSP is done. Distribution and procurement are two aspects. Therefore, you cannot think about procurement not happening. Even today, there are around 617 lakh metric tonnes (foodgrain) in government food stocks.”
Stating that nearly 80 lakh tonnes of foodgrain is being distributed under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and National Food Security Act, Pandey asked, “If we don’t procure, how will we distribute?”
In money terms, he said, “last year, Rs 1.15 lakh crore was transferred to farmers’ accounts during kharif season. This year it is expected to be Rs 1.40 lakh crore.”
Capoor said value of MSP procurement of cotton (kapas) is expected to be Rs 35,000 crore, which was Rs 28,500 crore last year.
Prasad said 40 percent wheat and rice procured from across the country comes from Punjab and Haryana, and FCI’s operations are in full swing in both states.
Making a presentation on the progress of the kharif marketing season, Pandey said procurement season was advanced to September 26 in view of early arrival of paddy in the market. As of October 6, he said, 15.26 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) paddy has been procured – against 12.38 LMT during last year, recording an increase of 23 percent.
Pandey also said that the FCI and State agencies are set to procure a record quantity of 738 LMT paddy during the ongoing kharif season, against 627 LMT paddy procured last year. “It is projected to benefit about 1.57 crore paddy farmers during the current kharif season, as against 1.24 crore farmers in the last season,” he said.
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