Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has ordered procurement of maize by Telangana State Cooperative Marketing Federation (MARKFED) at a support price of ₹ 1,850 a quintal at food grains procurement centres to be opened in villages like in the last season.
He made the announcement at a meeting with agriculture and civil supplies officials to discuss procurement of agricultural produce and regulated farming in the current season. He expressed dissatisfaction that the farmers cultivated maize in kharif despite a call by government restraining them from going for the crop as it was unlikely that they will get the support price.
The government was actually not mandated to procure maize but farmers cultivated the crop despite being told not to go for it. Yet, with the sole objective to ensure that the farmers did not suffer losses, the government had decided to procure them in spite of financial drain on its resources. He warned that the government may not procure maize if it was again grown in the coming rabi.
A release later said Mr. Rao recalled the government procuring nine lakh tonnes of maize through MARKFED at a cost of ₹ 1,668 crore in rabi last year. As the stocks did not fetch a good price in open market, it had to be auctioned off for a mere ₹ 823 crore. The MARKFED suffered a loss of ₹ 845 crore.
The procurement price of MARKFED was ₹ 1,760 a quintal but incidentals and transportation escalted the price to ₹ 2,000 a quintal. The auction price, however, was only ₹1,150 a quintal. The government was forced to dispose of the produce at lower rate as it did not have market in the country.
In this context, the government asked farmers not to cultivate maize in the just concluded kharif. It was suggested as an inter-crop over small acres of land with turmeric in Nizamabad, Nirmal, Jagtial, Mahbubabad and some other districts. However, the appeal of government and agriculture officials fell on deaf ears of some farmers, he said.
This resulted in the danger of farmers losing heavily. As a farmer friendly government, it could not remain silent to the impending danger to the community, and, therefore decided to purchase the crop.
Mr. Rao said Telangana had earned a name for itself as nowhere in the country for its welfare measures to farmers and development of agriculture. Farmers welfare topped the agenda of the State government. It developed farmers as an organised force. The government also introduced regulated farming with a view to earn remunerative price for farmers for the first time in the country with the coordination of farmers. It constructed one lakh threshing yards at the fields of farmers. Another 2,600 farmers’ meeting places were under construction. Having done so, it could not be silent to losses expected for farmers, he said.
He once again appealed to farmers not to cultivate maize in the coming rabi. He blamed the Central government for distress sale by maize farmers on account of reduction in import duty.