Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, November 17
Paddy production in Punjab has increased this year, with crop yield going up by over 50 kg per hectare. However, the procurement of paddy has decreased by nearly seven lakh metric tonnes.
Last year, the total paddy procurement from Punjab was 186.85 lakh metric tonnes (LMT). This year, till date, the paddy procurement is just 180.51 lakh metric tonnes, against a target of procuring 190 lakh metric tonnes crop set by the government.
Outside paddy not purchased this year
- The state government said the reason for a dip in procurement was because no paddy from outside the state was sold in Punjab mandis like before
- Farmers and commission agents said many non-basmati varieties cultivated in the state were a hot favourite with private buyers in Haryana
Despite a hike in minimum support price (MSP), the outgo for purchase of paddy this year is Rs 34,000 crore, against Rs 36,623.64 crore last year.
As the procurement season ended today, questions are being raised about the reason for the low paddy procurement this year. While the state government blamed it on the fact that this year, no paddy from outside the state was sold in Punjab mandis, farmers and commission agents in the state say that many non-basmati paddy varieties cultivated in the state were a hot favourite with private buyers hailing from Haryana, who were looking at exporting these on a premium.
“As against the MSP of Rs 2,060 per quintal, the varieties PR 106 and PR 126 have fetched farmers’ prices ranging from Rs 3,500 to Rs 2,130 per quintal. With the Russia-Ukraine war pushing up global food prices and demand, these varieties are reportedly being bought by exporters in Haryana,” explained Harbans Singh Rosha, a leading commission agent at the largest grain market in Khanna.
“This year, the crop cutting experiments have witnessed a 54 kg per hectare increase in yield of paddy, as compared to the yield during the previous year,” confirmed the Director, Agriculture, Gurwinder Singh.
It is learnt that over 2,000 crop cutting experiments in 23 districts were conducted. The results of nearly 75 per cent of these experiments have shown that paddy yield this year is 6,532 kg per hectare. Last year, the yield was 6,478 kg per hectare. The increase in yield is despite the inclement weather witnessed just before harvesting was to start and a virus infestation on the crop.
Officials in the state government, explaining the reason for lower procurement despite higher production, say that till last year, large quantities of paddy were purchased at prices lower than the MSP from other states and sold at the MSP in Punjab. This would lead to higher paddy procurement, they said.
“However, the procurement is lower this year as the government acted strictly against the malpractice,” said a senior officer in the Food and Supply Department.
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