Saturday, September 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

30 pc paddy procured on first day
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Khanna, September 21
Though government agencies today started the much-awaited procurement of paddy, farmers are resentful of the alleged indifferent attitude of the agencies with regard to procurement.

Officials concerned procured only 30 per cent of the total paddy that arrived at the local market today. The arrival of paddy was over 50,000 quintals. The farmers say what happened today has belied the assurance given by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, that not a single grain of paddy would be left unprocured.

The farmers said the officials rejected their paddy heaps by branding them poor in quality. Even certain good quality paddy was not procured. Commission agents said the attitude of the officials was not encouraging.

The local market is already full of paddy. Mr Sadhu Ram Nanda, president of the Arhtiya Association, Khanna, said the agencies had been by and large fair as far as today’s procurement operation was concerned. Moisture level in certain paddy heaps was over 25 per cent whereas it should be below 18 per cent.

What may compound problems is the call given by rice millers that they will not allow the stacking of paddy bags in their mills till September 25. The call has been given in protest against the rice out-turn ratio which has been raised from 64 per cent to 67 per cent by the FCI. Instead of the earlier 64 kg, they now are supposed to give 67 kg rice from one quintal of paddy to the government agencies offering paddy to them for custom milling.

The quality of paddy by and large is not good. Nearly 60 per cent of paddy piles have a very high ratio of “black paddy grain”  or damaged paddy. Such ratio should not be above 3 per cent. If the specification is relaxed like previous years, the agencies could procure paddy having damaged grain up to 8 per cent.

Top brass of the FCI led by Mr Bhure Lal had pointed out this problem last year also and his statement had created a stir in official circles and among agriculture experts.

“It will be better for Mr Badal to approach the Union Government at this stage to get the specifications relaxed otherwise the problem is going to be too complex to handle”, a commission agent said.

Mr Palwinder Singh from Bhamia village, Mr Ravinder Singh from Ghutit village and Mr Teja Singh from Lalheri village told The Tribune that their paddy was not procured today as the officials said it was not of good quality. “We have been awaiting the arrival of the government agencies for the past several days but when they arrived, it proved bad for us”, Mr Palwinder Singh said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Mr Tirlok Singh of Raipur village. His stock quality-wise appeared okay but it was rejected. “Yesterday a private trader was ready to buy it at Rs 520 quintal but I preferred to wait for the government agencies”, he said.

The local market is expecting the arrival of 23 lakh quintals of paddy during the current season. Till last evening, 1.5 lakh quintals of paddy had arrived in the local market. It fetched a price between Rs 425 and Rs 527 per quintal. “ As our paddy, though of a fine quality, had matured early, we were left with no alternative except to sell it to private traders at a price far lower than the minimum support price”, Mr Nirmal Singh of Aluna village, who sold his paddy for Rs 527 per quintal early this week, said.

Meanwhile, resentment prevailed among farmers against the Punjab Mandi Board authorities as it had not provided facilities to the farmers who had to stay in markets for two to four days to sell paddy.

They urged the Chief Minister to send flying squads to all grain markets for a first-hand report.Back

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