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71 per cent farmers unaware of MSP in Punjab, Haryana
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 27
After the hue and cry raised by the Akalis and the Congress, the Centre raised the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy by Rs 40 for the Kharif season. But if the latest government report is any indication, not many farmers know who would benefit from this increase.

The stunning fact by the Comptroller and Auditor General is that almost 71 per cent of the farmers in Punjab and Haryana have not heard of the MSP. This shocking information come from Punjab and Haryana which together contribute 56 per cent of the all rice procured and 85 per cent of the all wheat procured in the country.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its latest report of audit for the period 2000-05 said that the Centre had made little effort to bring about awareness about the MSP amongst the farmers.

Awareness among farmers continued to be low, the government did not conduct any impact evaluation to determine the extent of deprivation of benefits of MSP to farmers, so as to take appropriate remedial action, it said.

The Centre fixes the minimum support price for major crops to ensure farmers get remunerative prices for their products. It intervenes in the market if the prices fall below these levels.

It said the data released by the National Sample Survey of NSSO indicated that 71 per cent of farmers in the state were unaware of the MSP and among those who were aware of the support price, 81 per cent of the farmers did not how to effectively use the information.

Further, even those quantum of grain procured through MSP, the CAG found that other inefficiencies in procurement operations valuing Rs 263 crore was noticed primarily on account of deviations from norms.

Such deviation in rupee terms was primarily noticed in Punjab and Haryana. It said from Haryana Rs 141 crore was lost in disposal of wheat damaged due to prolonged storage in open, coupled with extraordinary volume of inventory of wheat and slow dispatches as per FCI's directions.

From Punjab due to short delivery of 0.79 lakh MT of rice by millers due to lesser out turn ratio of 64 per cent against paddy allowed, instead of 67 per cent fixed by the Union Government, a loss of Rs 81 crore occurred.

Additional interest paid to bank by procurement agencies due to their failure to match stocks with the outstanding cash credit limits in Punjab resulted in a loss of Rs 25 crore.

Failure of Haryana to obtain bank guarantee or stock advance from the millers put the recovery of 6365 MT of rice valuing Rs 5.72 crore from millers at stake even after two years of scheduled date, and under unnecessary litigation. Consequently, this resulted in additional interest payments by the State Department on the value of stock by Rs 1.18 crore.

Further, in Haryana the moisture gain of 22,000 quintal in respect of 28.18 lakh quintal of wheat dispatched by 10 District Food and Supplies Controllers (DFSCs) was short-accounted resulting in a loss of Rs 1.34 crore to the exchequer.

Meanwhile, the procurement of rice during the Kharif marketing season 2006-07 is estimated at 250 to 270 lakh tonne. The actual procurement of rice during the Kharif marketing season 2005-06 was 276.77 lakh tonne against an initial estimate of 230.07 lakh tonne.

The procurement of rice in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa is expected to cross the previous year's level.

 

 



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