Agri Business

Groundnut procurement resumes in Gujarat, but farmers a worried lot

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on November 18, 2019 Published on November 18, 2019

Strap: Complain of instances of rejection of the crop on account of a high moisture content

After a temporary suspension for about a fortnight, the Gujarat Government on Monday resumed groundnut procurement in select districts. Farmers, however, remained apprehensive about how effective the procurement process would be due to instances of rejection on account of the higher moisture content in the crop - a result of the cyclonic activities earlier this month.

About 44 talukas in 18 districts received unseasonal rains due to cyclonic storms in the Arabian Sea - first 'Kyarr', followed by 'Maha' at the beginning of November. The unexpected heavy rains accompanied by thundershowers flooded groundnut fields in growing areas, prompting the State government to temporarily suspend the scheduled procurement from November 1.

"There are increased instances of rejection of our crop due to higher moisture content. Even if the crop is good, it is being rejected on account of a moisture content in excess of 8 per cent. This is not our fault. In such extreme weather conditions, the procurement agencies need to understand the prevalent problem and relax norms relating to moisture content," said Mavjibhai Patel, a farmer in Rajkot district, who has about 22 quintals of harvested groundnut.

The State government has projected a groundnut crop of about 32 lakh tonnes in kharif year 2019-20 - nearly double last year's 15.9 lakh tonnes. Gujarat is the largest grower of the oilseed, with about 50 per cent share in the country's projected production of 63 lakh tonnes for 2019-20.

Over 4.5 lakh groundnut farmers have registered for procurement, as market prices have dipped to as low as Rs 3,700, with some better varieties fetching up to Rs 4,750 a quintal at the Gondal markets on Monday - much below the Centre’s Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 5,090 a quintal.

Considering the declining prices and fears of rejection, the farmers' body, the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), had made representations to the Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, seeking a relaxation in procurement norms by the Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd (GSCSCL).

Also, concerns were raised about widespread damage to the crop due to cyclonic storm. However, the State government conducted its own survey for damage assessment soon after the cyclone, and came out with a Rs 700-crore relief package for Kharif crop damage.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel had said the special package would be provided by the Central and State Governments in line with the Centre's Calamity Relief Fund guidelines for farmers covered under the crop insurance scheme at the rate of Rs 13,500 per hectare for irrigated land in case of damage of more than 33 per cent and Rs 6,800 crore per hectare for unirrigated land.

"The procurement activity had to be suspended on November 1 because of the flooding in the groundnut fields. Farmers were unable to bring their produce to the marketing yards. A mechanism was developed so that all farmers who had registered for procurement but couldn't bring their crops due to flooding, could also participate. We have resumed the procurement from today," said an official at the New Rajkot Market Yard.

Published on November 18, 2019
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