The paddy procurement exercise in Mysuru district has come under flak from farmers who have opposed the stipulations imposed by the government.
The government has put a ceiling on the quantity of paddy that can be procured at 16 quintals per acre while the farmers claim that the yield per acre was higher, ranging from 25 quintals to 40 quintals per acre. They want the cap lifted. Besides, there is provision to purchase only 40 quintals from a farmer or those with upto 2.5 acres of land; those with bigger land holding will not benefit.
In Mysuru district, paddy is the major crop in K.R.Nagar, T.Narsipur, parts of Nanjangud and Mysuru taluks and the 16 quintal limit per acre and 40 quintals per farmer prescribed for procurement will benefit only a handful, according to the Jilla Krishika Samaja.
Samaja president Shivakumar said that the farmers will incur financial loss due to this norm as they will be forced to sell the remaining portion of the produce to traders in the market who are quoting rates below the procurement price announced by the government.
The government price varies from 1,815 per quintal to 1,835 per quintal depending on the grading of the produce. The open market rates being quoted by traders range from 1,400 per quintal to 1,500 per quintal.
Though the government rate is higher, the ceiling has put the farmers in a quandary. The remaining quantity has to be sold to traders directly and the gains made by selling it to the government is neutralised by the loss incurred by selling it to the traders, said Atahalli Devaraja, farmer activist and office-bearer of the State Sugarcane Cultivators Association.
He said though the government procurement rates are higher, the entire exercise is a cumbersome process and a farmer from an area has to sell it to the rice mill that is earmarked for him. There is cost of transportation involved besides investment on procurement of bags to pack, said Mr. Devaraj.
In contrast the merchants procure the paddy directly from the field, bring in the weighing machines and arrange to transport the purchase from field to the mill; and most farmers find it convenient.
Badagalpura Nagendra of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sagna said the entire procurement process was an exercise in futility. A majority of the farmers have already sold the paddy to merchants and hence the procurement process will not benefit them, he said.
The KRRS suggested that the government should link paddy procurement to the PDS and distribute it to the public so as to benefit the local cultivators. At present, paddy for the PDS is procured from other wheat and rice growing States and this can be avoided, said Mr. Nagendra.