Centre could scale back moisture content material restrict for wheat, paddy. Why it will damage farmers

The federal government is attempting to step by step withdraw from procurement operations, MSP regime with this transfer, really feel farmers

A latest draft proposal by the Union authorities to alter the moisture content material restrict for wheat and paddy has farmers nervous forward of the rabi procurement season that begins April 2022. 

The perfect moisture content material in wheat could also be lowered to 12 per cent from 14 per cent and in paddy to 16 per cent from 17 per cent, in response to the discussions between  the Union Ministry of Shopper Affairs and Meals and Public Distribution and the Meals Company of India (FCI), which procures meals grains from farmers on a minimal assist worth (MSP).

At current, farmers need to take a worth lower on MSP when promoting wheat shares above the 12 per cent restrict to FCI. Shares with above 14 per cent moisture are rejected. If the proposal is promulgated, wheat shares with moisture content material above 12 per cent won’t be procured even with a worth lower.

Moisture content material has been a delicate challenge with farmers as that is yet one more hurdle for them to fetch a superb worth for his or her produce. Premature rain forward of procurement season and lack of sheltered cupboard space on the mandis already make it troublesome for farmers to maintain their shares dry. Decreasing of the moisture content material limits will add to their woes. 

The procurement course of has additionally been delayed in the previous couple of years for a number of issues on the mandis (market). The standard of their produce has suffered whereas ready on the mandis for an inordinate period of time, the farmers stated.

Sukhvinder Singh, a wheat farmer from Patiala district, stated: 

Climate situations and different circumstances aren’t in our management. Final 12 months, there was a problem with gunny luggage and I needed to await days on the mandis for the federal government to acquire the crop. Then, it additionally rained. So, the moisture content material of my wheat inventory elevated. I needed to promote it beneath MSP. 

The proposed adjustments, nonetheless, aren’t primarily based on a research or evaluation by FCI on issues with 14 per cent moisture content material, disclosed an FCI official, who didn’t want to be named. “The intention is to enhance the standard of foodgrains  we’re procuring for the general public distribution system (PDS),” he stated. The adjustments shouldn’t be seen as some form of corrective measure, he added. 

The ministry has written to agriculture departments of state governments for his or her feedback, stated an official from the Punjab unit of FCI. “The upper the moisture within the crop, the harder it’s to retailer for lengthy,” stated the official. 

After harvesting, wheat absorbs moisture whereas rice loses it. On a mean, wheat comprises 15 to 22 per cent moisture on harvest. Farmers need to dry their produce after harvesting and even at mandis earlier than procurement. 

Different provisions being mentioned are decreasing international matter in wheat crop to 0.50 per cent from 0.75 per cent and in paddy to 1 per cent from 2 per cent.

It isn’t the primary time that the matter has been taken up by the federal government. An identical proposal was mentioned in March 2021. 

Farmers are additionally seeing this transfer as the federal government attempting to step by step withdraw itself from the procurement operations and MSP regime. 

When the federal government was selling the manufacturing of rice and wheat in Punjab and Haryana, it used to acquire even excessive moisture content material crops, stated GS Bajwa, a farmer from Gurdaspur district who farms with trendy expertise and tries to keep away from chemical compounds on his farms as a lot as potential. “Now they’re punishing us.”

The crops undergo numerous processes after being harvested: Packing, transportation to the mandis and drying on the mandis earlier than procurement, he stated. “It’s the responsibility of the FCI to deliver the produce to their optimum stage earlier than distribution.” 

The FCI godowns nonetheless don’t have trendy expertise and they’re placing the onus of this on farmers, the farmer stated. 

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