Paddy bonus in poll-bound Chhattisgarh to woo 1.3 million farmers

In a decision that will have a direct impact on the electoral fate of ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Raman Singh cabinet on Tuesday announced to pay bonus to farmers.

The bonus will be besides the minimum support price (MSP) at which the state government will procure paddy from the farmers during the Kharif season 2018. A target of procuring 7.5 million tonnes of paddy had been set for the season.

“The procurement process will start from November 1 and the farmers will be given bonus of Rs 300 per quintal along with the MSP,” Chief Minister Raman Singh said. A cap of 15 quintal per acre has been kept to procure paddy at MSP.

With the inclusion of bonus, the farmers in the state will be eligible to get Rs 2,070 for a quintal of A-grade paddy that the government will procure. For the common-grade quality, the eligible seller total price will get Rs 2,050 per quintal.

Singh said the execution of the decision would cost Rs 2.4 billion to the state exchequer. “A special session of the state assembly is likely to be convened on September 11 and 12 to get the budgetary approval for the proposal,” he added.

In all, 1.3 million farmers registered with the primary cooperative societies of the state-run Chhattisgarh Marketing Federation will be the beneficiaries. The federation is the nodul agency for the procurement in the state, which is among a few in the country that purchase paddy directly from farmers at MSP.

The decision to give bonus is seen as a last ditch effort of the BJP government to sway the farmers ahead of the elections. Chhattisgarh is likely to go to the polls in mid November this year and the BJP will seek the mandate to retain power for the fourth term in a row.