The secretaries in the food, agriculture and textiles ministries sent a strong message to farmers that the government is strengthening the procurement system, not abandoning it. They said this year’s procurement has begun earlier than normal and official purchases from farmers is rising much faster than the growth in output. The officials were addressing reporters on Wednesday.
Several opposition leaders have alleged that recent reforms in agricultural marketing signal an end to official procurement, but the government has repeatedly asserted that the changes only give farmers more freedom to sell their produce, which would help them get higher prices.
Food secretary Sudhanshu Pande said official procurement of paddy until October 6 had risen 23% to 1.52 MT.
“We have set a target to procure 49.71 MT of rice this year, against 42.05 MT last year. This year we expect to disburse an amount of ₹1.40 lakh crore to farmers, which is 22% more than last year. There is progressive increment year-on-year basis in procurement and amount paid to farmers,” he said.
Food Corporation of India chairman DV Prasad said rice production has gone up by 11% since 2013-14, but its official procurement increased much more – by over 60%.