The State government has targeted procurement of 1.65 crore tonnes of paddy from farmers at the back of a record production in the current year.
Of this massive quantity, procurement in the Vaanakalam (kharif) is expected to be around 90 lakh metric tonnes and balance 75 lakh metric tonnes during Yasangi (rabi season). The government has already announced a minimum support price of ₹1,888 a quintal for A-grade variety and ₹1,868 a quintal for the B-grade or common variety.
The significant improvement in the procurement target is attributed to the projected rise in the area under agriculture with the operationalisation of major projects like Kaleshwaram. Procurement of 1.65 crore tonnes of paddy would set a record for the State as the procurement was 1.12 crore MT in 2019-20 and 77.41 lakh MT in the year before that. Paddy procurement for the entire crop year hovered around 50 to 60 lakh MT during the previous years.
The Civil Supplies department has released the paddy procurement policy for the current year after the State Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, finalized the action plan for the purpose at the village level itself. As the incidence of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the government has decided to open 5,690 procurement centres in villages so that overcrowding at agricultural market committees is avoided and the process is taken up at the farmers’ doorstep.
Paddy procured from farmers should be custom milled and the resultant raw rice delivered by millers would be utilised for Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and other welfare measures. The annual requirement of raw rice for TPDS and other welfare schemes, including open market sales scheme with two months buffer, is pegged at approximately 28.8 lakh metric tonnes.
The policy mentioned in detail the specifications of paddy, including the presence of foreign matter, both organic and inorganic, discolouration, moisture content and immature, shrunken or shrivelled grains. The Civil Supplies Corporation, IKP (women self-help groups), agriculture cooperative societies and other agencies would make paddy purchases at procurement centres. The allotment of procurement centres to these groups would, however, be made after taking into consideration their previous performance.
The policy contained clear guidelines pertaining to custom milling of paddy to be undertaken by rice millers and they were directed to deliver the custom milled rice within 15 days of receipt of paddy. “The collectors shall take action to blacklist the rice millers who divert paddy stocks delivered for custom milling or indulge in purchase of PDS rice”.