Saturday, October 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Paddy floods Punjab mandis
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Punjab is heading for a new record of paddy production despite drought. The state has already crossed the 100 lakh tonne mark. Starting from September, 107.28 lakh tonnes of paddy had arrived in various grain markets till last evening. Out of this, 88.07 lakh tonnes has been procured by the government agencies and 12.63 lakh tonnes by private traders from October 1, the official date for starting procurement. However, before October 1, 6.46 lakh tonnes of paddy had arrived in the market.

Official sources say the arrival of paddy in the market yesterday was a little over three lakh tonnes. If this trend continues even for three, four days more, previous year’s record of 110.66 lakh tonnes paddy, which was procured by the government and private traders would be surpassed. Like previous year, Sangrur district maintained the lead in paddy production, with the procurement of 15.37 lakh tonnes of paddy till last evening. It is followed by Ludhiana 12.99 lakh tonnes and Ferozepore (10.75 lakh tonnes). The daily arrival of paddy in Sangrur, Patiala and Ludhiana districts is over 40,000 tonnes even these days.

The monsoon eluded Punjab like other states. However, the affect of drought was not that devastating as it was in other states because of various reasons. First, Punjab’s canal irrigation network, second the number of tubewells over 10 lakh, third, substantial power supply to the agricultural sector during the crisis period, and above the willpower of Punjabi farmers to take on every crisis.

The per acre yield of paddy is better this year by three to five quintals. The Punjab Agriculture Department was expecting a yield of 71.52 lakh tonnes of rice this year from 24.51 lakh hectares under the paddy crop.” “We now expect that the production of rice will be more than what we estimated,” said a senior officer of the Punjab Agriculture Department. Punjab Food and Supply Minister Lal Singh said he was expecting the arrival of 115 lakh tonnes of paddy till the end of the season. Procurement was smooth right from the word go, and there were no dharnas, no traffic jams by farmers as their paddy was lifted instantly, the minister said.

When asked if there were reports of paddy arriving in Punjab from other states such as UP where the minimum support price is not usually paid, a senior officer of the Food and Supply Department said: “we are keeping watch in this regard. The barriers on state entry points have been given instructions not to allow paddy from other states in any case.”

State government agencies had procured 75.1 per cent of the total paddy arrivals in the state while the FCI, which was supposed to procure 30 per cent, notched up a figure of 24.9 per cent till last evening. In fact, the FCI has been decreasing its share of procurement for the past several years.

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