Govt to Shell Out Rs 1.40 Lakh Crore for Procuring Paddy at MSP in Kharif Season
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New Delhi: Amid farmers' protests against new laws, the Centre on Wednesday asserted that buying of kharif crops at Minimum Support Price is continuing and that Rs 1.40 lakh crore will be spend for procuring 738 lakh tonnes of paddy at MSP from more than 156 lakh farmers. Around Rs 35,000 crore will be shelled out for buying 125 lakh bales of cotton at MSP this year. Even pulses and oilseeds are being procured at the respective MSPs, it said.
Seeking to send out a clear message to the protesting farmers that the Centre has no intention of scrapping procurement at MSP, senior officials held a press conference on Wednesday on steps being taken for procurement of the kharif crops. The conference was jointly addressed by Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agrawal, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, Textile Secretary Ravi Capoor and Food Corporation of India (FCI) Chairman and Managing Director D V Prasad.
"MSP procurement was done in the past, will be done in the present and future as well. Farmers' need not worry," the Agriculture Secretary said. There has been a record increase in coverage of the kharif crops to 401 lakh hectares this year and a bumper foodgrains production is also expected. "Farmers have worked hard during this pandemic period. The government is committed to procure their crops at MSP rates," he said.
He also said the government fixes MSP for 25 notified crops and out of them, 14 crops are grown in the kharif season. Generally, procurement of kharif crops begins from October 1.
Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said the government cannot stop procurement as it is integral for ensuring food security under the National Food Security Act. "What we procure directly from farmers is being distributed at subsidised rates to the poor via ration shops," he noted. Further, he said that all mechanisms have been put in place for MSP-buying of kharif paddy and other crops, adding that in fact, kharif paddy buying was advanced this year due to early arrival of the crop.
"FCI and state agencies are all set to procure a record quantity of 738 lakh tonnes of paddy (497 lakh tonnes in terms of rice) during the ongoing kharif crop (season) as against 627 lakh tonnes of paddy in the year-ago (period)," he said. In the last 11 days alone, there has been a 23 per cent increase in paddy procurement at 15.26 lakh tonnes as against 12.38 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period, he said.
"The MSP outflow is estimated to be higher at Rs 1,40,078 crore in the 2020-21 kharif as against Rs 1,15,172 crore in the year-ago. Paddy will be procured from 156.78 lakh farmers this time," Pandey noted. To ensure smooth procurement, FCI chief said the government has increased purchase centres from 30,549 to 39,130 in the 2020-21 kharif marketing season.
Even during the pandemic, the government procured paddy and wheat grown during the rabi season from 64.64 lakh farmers, he said. That apart, MSP procurement has increased both in volumes and value terms in the last few years.
With regard to cotton, Textile Secretary said cotton procurement has commenced from October 1 and about 2,311 bales have been purchased from Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan so far. "We are expecting higher cotton production this year. Even procurement target has been kept higher at 125 lakh bales. MSP outflow is estimated to be Rs 35,000 crore," he said.
Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) is undertaking procurement at 430 centres spread across 135 districts in 12 states. The procurement has been kept open-ended and farmers can sell their produce to CCI, he said. Cotton production is estimated to increase to 360 lakh bales in 2020-21 from 357 lakh bales in 2019-20 marketing year (October-September), he added.
Farmers in several states are protesting against the new farm laws, which they feel will lead to procurement in the hands of corporates and end MSP regime.