Bihar farmers upset over slow pace of paddy procurement

Rice cultivators in Bihar are upset over the slow pace of procurement of their produce by the Centre, as well state agencies.

Patna: Rice cultivators in Bihar are upset over the slow pace of procurement of their produce by the Centre, as well state agencies.

Against a target of procuring 12 lakh tonnes of paddy this year, just about 3.5 lakh tonnes have been purchased so far, sources in state Food and Civil Supplies department said.

The procurement process will end by March 30.

"I worked hard to grow paddy in my field. I pray to God that my stock of paddy is procured soon," Rajendra Mahto, a small farmer on the outskirts of Patna, said.

Bihar Food and Civil Supplies minister Shyam Razak pinned the blame for lax paddy procurement on the Centre.

"FCI (Food Corporation of India) has procured only about 30 percent of their target of lifting 10 lakh tonnes of the staple foodgrain item (paddy) so far," Razak said.

The minister said he drew the attention of Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs KV Thomas to the matter when he met him during a food conference in the national capital early this month.

Razak said while the FCI has to procure 10 lakh tonnes of paddy, the state`s share is two lakh tonnes.

He said the three state agencies -- State Food Corporation, Biscoman and PAX (Primary Agriculture Cooperative) -- have completed nearly 70 percent of the work.

"We are speeding up the process to achieve the target," he said.

Razak alleged that the FCI has done precious little to increase its storage capacity in the state despite the glaring need.

The situation is serious as the state suffered its second consecutive drought in 2010 and farmers were eagerly waiting for the procurement season.

Bihar had declared all 38 of its districts as drought-hit in August last year due to the paucity of rain to the tune of about 30 percent.

Except for the Araria and East and West Champaran districts, paddy sowing and transplantation was badly hit due to the dearth of rainfall.

The eastern state, which normally produces 4.5-5 million tonnes of paddy annually, is expected to have an output of around 3 million tonnes in the 2010-11 crop year. Paddy cultivation in the state last year was 3.4 million tonnes, sources in the state agriculture department said.

Rice cultivation in the country is expected to be 94 million tonnes in the 2010-11 (July-June) crop year which is 5 million tonnes more than 2009-2010.


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