The procurement operations for groundnut crop initiated by the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (Nafed) under the Price Support Scheme (PSS) were suspended in Gujarat after the agencies made a record purchases of 8 lakh tonnes (lt) of the oilseed at the support price of ₹4,500 per quintal.

However, considering a bumper crop of about 32 lt in the last kharif season, the Gujarat government has asked Centre to approve additional procurement of 4 lt, to which the Union Agriculture Ministry has raised queries about the State’s preparedness for storage of the massive volumes of the oilseed in a scientific manner.

Warehousing woes

“We have assured the Centre that adequate scientific storage facilities will be arranged. If the godowns of our own State Warehousing Corporation goes out of space, we will have private warehouses on lease to accommodate the additional quantity. The approval for additional procurement of 4 lt is likely at anytime soon,” Bharat Modi, Director of Agriculture, Gujarat, told BusinessLine .

According to Modi, the additional procurement will continue till March 31 post the approval from Centre. Taluka level co-operative societies have indicated preparedness for the procurement.

“We have been told by the government to start procurement for the additional 4 lt. But we will resume the procurement from February 1. Currently, procurement is closed at all centres,” said Maganbhai Jhalavadia of Padadhari Taluka Cooperative Union.

Record purchases

According to State government data, procurement agencies have already purchased a record quantity of groundnut worth over ₹3,500 crore and is stored at warehouses both — State-owned and private ones.

Nafed sources informed that the procurement operations were completely stopped across Gujarat as “we reached our targeted volume of 8 lakh tonnes within the 3-month timeline.”

Nafed may seek support from the Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) for certification of the warehouses on the scientific basis.

Prices dip

The market prices of the oilseed had fallen to as low as ₹3,250 per quintal, which prompted the government to initiate the procurement from the last week of October 2017.

Following the procurement activity, market prices edged up to about ₹3,700-4,000 a quintal as huge quantities remained unsold with farmers.

“In the wake of the continued higher arrivals, the State government has urged the Centre to allow procurement of 4 lakh tonnes of groundnut, in addition to the current target of 8 lakh tonnes. We believe that our request will soon be approved,” Modi, had informed recently.

Buying agencies

Nafed, through four State-level procurement agencies namely, Gujarat Cooperative Oilseeds Growers’ Federation Ltd (Grofed), Gujarat State Cooperative Marketing Federation Ltd (Gujcomasol), Gujarat State Co-Operative Cotton Federation Limited (GujCot) and Banas Dairy, started procurement through their affiliate taluka-level farmer co-operatives.

The procurement had started initially from over 100 centres, but was gradually expanded to 253 centres.

According to Gujarat Agriculture Department, as on January 18, 137 procurement centres located within APMCs were active.

social-fb COMMENT NOW