Chhattisgarh farmers purchase highest quantity of paddy

Pro-farmer policies have helped Chhattisgarh clock a record number of farmers selling their crops, according to figures released by the state government.

This has led to the highest quantity of paddy being procured by the state since its formation two decades ago, the data suggest.

The feat by the Congress government in Chhattisgarh assumes significance amid gloomy scenes of farmers’ unrest against the BJP-led central government’s new farm laws and the demand for guaranteed minimum support price.

“A record number of 95.38 per cent of total registered farmers have sold paddy in Chhattisgarh in kharif marketing year 2020-21, thanks to the farmer-friendly policies implemented under the leadership of chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and a better system of paddy procurement at minimum support price. Out of 21,52,475 registered farmers, 20,53,483 have sold their paddy this year, which is the highest in the last 20 years. The number of farmers selling paddy at minimum support price, total registered acreage, area of paddy sold, percentage of farmers selling paddy and the total amount of paddy sold have increased significantly after formation of the new government in Chhattisgarh,” said T.P. Sinha, commissioner, public relations.

According to data released by the Chhattisgarh government, it has purchased more than 92 lakh metric tonnes of paddy in 2020-21 as on January 31, 2021. Compared to the last six years, the percentage of farmers selling paddy in 2020-21 is 95.38, which is the highest ever since the state was formed.

In 2015-16, 11,05,556 farmers out of 13,17,583 registered farmers had sold their paddy, a rate of 83.9 per cent. Out of 14,51,088 farmers registered in 2016-17, 13,27,944 sold paddy (91.5 per cent). 

Out of 15,77,332 farmers registered in 2017-18, 12,06,264 farmers sold paddy, a rate of 76.4 per cent. In 2018-19, out of 16,96,765 registered farmers, 15,71,414 farmers sold paddy (92.6 per cent). Similarly, out of 19,55,544 farmers registered in 2019-2020, a total of 18,38,593 farmers sold their paddy, which is 94.02 per cent. 

“Chief minister Baghel took the historic decision to waive off farmer loans and irrigation tax as soon as he came into power, which encouraged people to return to agriculture. Enthusiasm of the farmers was further boosted by providing Rs 10,000 per acre of agricultural input assistance under the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana. Under this scheme, farmers of the state are being provided direct assistance of Rs 5,750 crore. Three instalments have been already transferred to the farmers’ accounts and the fourth will be transferred by March. 

“So far loans amounting to nearly Rs 9,000 crore have been waived in the state. We have managed to procure paddy from tribals who have got land under the Forest Rights Act,” said Sinha.

Senior agriculture officials said that despite the adverse circumstances in the state, the government made adequate arrangements for the purchase of paddy. Smooth availability of gunny bags was ensured through several alternative arrangements to overcome their shortage. Payments to farmers were continuous. 

In addition to custom milling, lifting of paddy in the collection centres is also continuing.

There has been a significant increase in the area of farming and farmers in the state in the last two years. The area under paddy cultivation has reached more than 27 lakh hectares and the number of registered farmers has reached 21,52,000 lakh. 

There has also been a significant increase in the area registered for paddy cultivation and the quantity of paddy purchased in the last six years.

In 2015-16, 21,26,000 hectares of land was registered for paddy cultivation and 59 lakh metric tonnes of paddy purchased at support price. The area registered in 2016-17 was 23,42,000 hectares and 69 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was purchased. The area registered in 2017-18 was 24,46,000 hectares and 56 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was purchased. In 2018-19, the area registered for cultivation was 25,60,000 hectares and 80 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was purchased. The area registered in 2019-20 was 26,88,000 hectares and paddy purchased was 83 lakh metric tonnes.

During the 2018 Assembly polls, the Congress had promised paddy procurement at Rs 2,500 per quintal. It proved to be one of the catalysts in the party’s victory in the election.

In view of the Covid-19 crisis hitting the farmers hard, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to pay for sugarcane and maize and other crops. “We have decided to pay an exchange grant of Rs 13,000 per acre for sugarcane farming,” said Sinha.