Paddy procurement to commence in Punjab, Haryana from October 3

Punjab and Haryana governments on Saturday announced that the procurement of paddy – a major Kharif crop – will begin from October 3, after the Centre acceded to their request. The Centre’s earlier decision to put off procurement till October 11 due to recent heavy rains sparked protests by farmers in the two states.

“I am happy that the Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey has accepted our request, and procurement will start in Haryana from October 3,” Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who was flanked by his deputy Dushyant Chautala and state Agriculture Minister J P Dalal said, said after meeting the central minister in Delhi.

He said the paddy crop has reached the mandis for purchase and, keeping in mind the interests of all such farmers, Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey was requested to start the procurement at the earliest.

Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who had taken up the issue during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, said that farmers would be satisfied with the decision as it will ensure smooth and hassle-free procurement.

The procurement of Kharif crops – Paddy and Millet- was earlier to start from October 1, but due to heavy rains, the central government had postponed the procurement till October 11 as the moisture content in fresh arrivals was beyond permissible limits.

The decision has irked farmers and many of them protested on Saturday in several parts of the two states, laying siege to the houses of many ministers, MPs and MLAs.

Farmers broke police barricades and faced water cannons, including near Chief Minister Khattar’s house in Karnal.

In Punjab, farmers protested outside the residences of several Congress legislators, including state assembly Speaker Rana K P Singh in Rupnagar and MLA Harjot Kamal in Moga.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of farmer unions that is spearheading the agitation against the three central agri laws, had on Friday had given a call for holding protests outside the residences of legislators in Punjab and Haryana.

Khattar said that protests have been held at many places by farmers demanding an early start of procurement and the Haryana Government also believes that the procurement should start on time.

“So as per the demand of the farmers and keeping in mind their interest, it has now been decided to start the procurement of paddy from October 3. I hope the farmers will end their protest now,” Khattar said.

Punjab and Haryana are the most affected by the stir against the farm laws that started in November last year.

The Union Food Ministry had on Friday said that it had postponed the procurement to protect farmers as sale of paddy with high moisture content caused due to untimely rains may lead to rejection of the grain at buying centres and consequent loss to farmers. Paddy samples — checked by regional offices of state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) at Punjab and Haryana — showed paddy in Punjab was having moisture content of 18 to 22 per cent, while in Haryana 18.2-22.7 per cent against the permissible limit of 17 per cent, it said. The paddy crop in both agrarian states was having high moisture content due to untimely rains in the second fortnight of September that affected the standing kharif crop, it said. “Accordingly, to save farmers from inconvenience and to protect farmer’s interest, Government of India decided that procurement of paddy under minimum support price (MSP) operation would commence from October 11, 2021 in Punjab and Haryana and advised all agencies to gear up to help farmers,” the ministry had said in a statement.

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