Daily procurement limit hiked for farmers under Price Support Scheme amid COVID-19 lockdown

The government agencies like Nafed, SPAC and other state-owned agencies procure pulses and oilseeds at minimum support price (MSP) under the PSS.

Daily procurement limit hiked for farmers under Price Support Scheme amid COVID-19 lockdown

New Delhi: The central government on Thursday (April 9) took a decision in favour of farmers to deal with the situation arising out of nationwide lockdown in view of coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The government approved the enhancement, from 25 quintals to 40 quintals, of daily procurement limit per farmer per day under the Price Support Scheme (PSS), according to an official statement.

The government agencies like Nafed, SPAC and other state-owned agencies procure pulses and oilseeds at minimum support price (MSP) under the PSS. The procurement shall continue for 90 days from the date of commencement of procurement. 

According to official communication, "This shall supersede the procurement period mentioned in the earlier orders for the Rabi season 2020. The other terms and conditions will remain the same as issued."

The Centre has reportedly invited proposals from the state governments and Union Territories for implementation of the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for the procurement of perishable agriculture or horticulture crops, whose prices have gone down recently.

According to a circular issued by the Agriculture Ministry, the objective of the intervention is to protect the farmers involved in these commodities from making distress sales in the event of a bumper crop during the peak arrival period when the prices tend to fall below economic levels and cost of production.

The circular was quoted as saying, "Under the scheme, in accordance with MIS guidelines, a pre-determined quantity at the fixed MIP (market intervention price) is procured by the agencies designated by the state government for a fixed period or till the prices are stabilized above the MIP whichever is earlier." 

Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar today chaired a meeting, via video conference, with the state agriculture ministers and appreciated their efforts and proactive role in agriculture activities even during this challenging time of COVID-19 pandemic.

Tomar told the states to sensitise field agencies about exemptions to farming-related activities and allow movement of farm produce, farming products, fertilisers, farm implements and machinery, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Tomar spoke to state agriculture ministers, through video conferencing, to discuss the problems of farmers in the wake of the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Tomar had asserted that farmers will not face problems during the lockdown with relaxation given to them by the government.

Notably, the Haryana government has set up a 24x7 toll-free helpline for farmers during the upcoming Rabi procurement season, besides ensuring that social distancing norms are followed by farmers.

"A dedicated 24x7 toll-free helpline 1800-180-2060 has been set up in the head office of Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board, Panchkula, which would be fully operational by April 13," an official statement said today.

The procurement season will start on April 15. A layout plan for every mandi and procurement centre has been circulated to all districts to ensure social distancing norms are followed.