AP govt starts direct purchase of paddy from farmers amid Covid-19 lockdown

Farmers have sold 4,773 tonnes of paddy at different government purchase centers.
The Andhra Pradesh government has started purchasing paddy being harvested in the rabi season just as it had announced the measure late last month in view of the ongoing lockdown.

The government's intervention provides an interim platform for farmers to sell their Rabi produce at the assured minimum support price (MSP) of respective crops as all the agriculture market yards are shut as part of the steps being taken against the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the state. The move would also preempt distress sales that would possibly drive the prices below the MSP, according to the government.

Farmers have sold 4,773 tonnes of paddy at different government purchase centers across Chiottoor, Nellore and West Godavari districts on the first day. Maize crop would also be purchased from Tuesday, according to state agriculture minister K Kannababu. The government so far has opened 1280 purchase centers across the state.

The decision to buy Rabi produce directly from farmers will have a huge financial implication on the government exchequer as paddy production alone is expected to be in the range of 3 million tonnes in the Rabi season. On top of that chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has instructed the procurement agencies to pay farmers within 48 hours from the date of purchase by crediting the money into their accounts.

The government has also directed the officials to see that no price fall happens because of inadequate marketing facility or movement in case of horticulture crops as well. Horticulture crops account for around 40 percent of the total acreage in Andhra Pradesh. Various fruit crops including mango, lime, sweet lime, papaya, cashew among others are grown in an estimated 43 lakh acres while the targeted Rabi crop area in the state is 63 lakh acres.

Telangana government also announced similar steps to purchase major Rabi crops from farmers in this season. The government had recently issued orders to facilitate the state civil supplies corporation to raise Rs 25,000 crore funds to buy paddy from farmers. The government estimates Paddy production in this Rabi season to be around 3 million tonnes, similar to AP.

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