Hyderabad: Responding to Chief Minister, K Chandrashekhar Rao letter seeking steps for lifting cap on the procurement of red gram, the Centre on Friday conveyed its approval for purchasing a maximum of 75,300 tonnes from the State. But the quantity it sought to procure was far less than what it had promised earlier.
The TRS MPs from the State will be making a fresh representation to the Centre on the red gram procurement issue in a day or two. They will also be meeting Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution in Delhi to support the red gram farmers. The State is expecting support from the Price Stabilisation Fund to give a fair deal to the farmers.
The Chief Minister, who reviewed the status of red gram procurement in the State on February 5, wrote to the Union Minister for Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh seeking steps for procurement of at least two lakh tonnes of red gram from the State that had a bumper harvest of the crop during kharif. He also wanted the Centre to relax the procurement limit of 40 per cent (of the total production) in view of the situation prevailing at present in the state.
The Chief Minister also wanted the procurement period to be extended till March end. He explained that the State’s red gram production this season was expected to touch 2.84 lakh tonnes as an area of 2.95 lakh hectares was under the crop. As per the permitted norm, procurement of 40 per cent of the estimated production can be allowed. It would facilitate procurement of about 1.13 lakh tonnes only from the State.
As the price offered in the open market is not remunerative, the farmers were coming to the procurement centres in the market yards in large numbers. In fact the Ministry of Agriculture had given its commitment to the State to procure at least 1.13 lakh tonnes in response to a letter from the Minister for Marketing T Harish Rao. But it backed out later.
The State government is however keen on ensuring a fair deal to the red gram growers who are left with huge stocks. The Hyderabad Agriculture Cooperative association (HACA) and the Markfed which had been entrusted with the responsibility of red gram procurement had sought guarantees from the State government enabling them to borrow Rs 600 crore from the banks. They want to step up procurement of red gram with the money after clearing the payment due to the farmers.
The Central government gave permission to procure 53,600 tonnes of red gram under MSP of Rs 5,450. After the CM’s intervention, it had accorded permission for procurement of an additional quantity of 21,700 tonnes only.