Bihar govt. raises paddy procurement limit for farmers

CM Kumar chairs meeting to hike quotas, ensure MSP for farmers registered with PACS

Amid the protests in Delhi over the new farm legislations, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has increased limit of paddy procurement from 200 quintals to 250 quintals for land-owning farmers and also ensured that farmers registered with the Agriculture Department be automatically deemed eligible for paddy procurement by the Primary Agriculture Credit Society (PACS) at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

At a high-level meeting of officials chaired by Mr. Kumar on Thursday to review status of paddy procurement in Bihar during 2020-21, the State government decided to increase the limit of paddy procurement from land-owning farmers to 250 quintals from the exiting 200 quintals, and from 75 quintals to 100 quintals for marginal farmers.

On the procurement from registered farmers by the PACS, Mr. Kumar said the Cooperative Department need not register farmers separately for the purpose.

In 2006, Nitish Kumar government had scrapped Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act in Bihar and later introduced the PACS in its place to ensure a fair price to farmers.

However, farmers have complained about not getting fair prices and corruption in PACS.

“Over 90% farmers in Bihar are either small or marginal farmers who usually sell their crops through vyappar mandals (trading bodies) and only a few could reach markets,” said Brajnandan Sharma, a land-owning farmer of Bihta, near Patna. He further added, “before the Nitish Kumar government scrapped the APMC Act, farmers were selling their produce to the market committees where, at least, minimum price was guaranteed but, later the farmers were forced to indulge in distress sale as they have no storage facilities.”

Enhanced storage

At Thursday’s meeting, officials were asked to ensure adequate storage capacity in all the districts for storing the procured paddy. Paddy procurement is expected to be very high this year because of a good harvest in the Bihar.

Mr Kumar directed officials to allow newly elected PACS chairpersons, without any taint or irregularity, to carry out paddy procurement drive and asked District Magistrates to make spot verifications that farmers would get their paddy procurement done at the nearest unit of PACS.

The State government is said to have set a target of procuring at least 45 lakh metric tonnes of paddy during the current season, said officials. “This year, the MSP for general grade paddy has been fixed at ₹1,868 per quintal while, for A-grade paddy at ₹1,888 per quintal,” they said.

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