In the last two years, there has been a perceptible fall in the number of farmers supplying paddy to the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC). But this has not led to a decrease in the quantum of the produce procured. On the contrary, the quantum has been on the rise, and this year, the State has made a record procurement of over 30 lakh tonnes of paddy.
During the 2011-12 kharif marketing season (KMS), about 23.87 lakh tonnes of paddy were procured from 11.75 lakh farmers. Four years later, 17.8 lakh tonnes came from 8.5 lakh farmers. In 2018-19, the procurement rose to around 19.1 lakh tonnes, but the number of farmers involved was a mere 5.06 lakh. In the current year, around 30.24 lakh tonnes — the highest since the introduction of the decentralised system of procurement in October 2002 — were procured from just 5.34 lakh farmers.
An interesting feature of the procurement this time is that about one-third of the total quantum was procured during April-August, when lockdown restrictions were in force in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. About 10.4 lakh tonnes were procured by the Corporation from the farmers.
Asserting that the State administration as a whole does not discourage farmers from supplying produce, a senior official of TNCSC explained that the recent trend – higher procurement from fewer farmers – was due to the launch of a revamped procurement system, under which procurement is linked to the farmers’ Aadhaar numbers and unique identification numbers assigned by TNCSC. As this also covers land documents of farmers, the measurement of the size of farmers is far more precise than it was earlier.
Though it was introduced in 2017-18, the revamped system became fully operational only the following year. At present, payment for the paddy procured is credited to the bank accounts of the farmers concerned through RTGS. “No cash payment is being done,” the TNCSC official said.
Of around 2,100 direct procurement centres, 554 have been opened in districts other than those in the Cauvery delta, he added.