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Marginal increase in TNCSC procurement

By S. Vydhianathan

CHENNAI, MARCH 17. Severe drought in the delta districts is reflected in paddy procurement by the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation.

In normal circumstances, the Corporation procured eight lakh-10 lakh tonnes during the samba season and about 3 lakh tonnes during kuruvai season. But in the last two years, there has been a drastic fall in procurement owing to severe drought conditions and fall in paddy production.

While the corporation did not get even a single grain in the 2002 and 2003 kuruvai seasons, it could procure just 1.53 lakh tonnes in the last samba season, ie in 2003.

The corporation purchased about 19 lakh tonnes in 2001, including 16.75 lakh tonnes in the samba season, and about 7.5 lakh tonnes in 2002 samba season.

In the current samba season, there is a marginal improvement compared to last year. The Corporation has so far procured about 2.45 lakh tonnes with a daily arrival of about 7,000 tonnes at 513 direct procurement centres in the composite Thanjavur district. Tiruvarur district tops with a procurement of 1.09 lakh tonnes, followed by Nagapattinam (73,692 tonnes) and Thanjavur (58,201 tonnes).

In some taluks in Cuddalore, Tiruchi, Perambalur and Pudukottai districts, which also come under the delta region, the procurement is almost nil except in Cuddalore district, where about 8,600 tonnes has been procured.

With samba harvest almost over, the corporation expects to procure another 1.5 lakh tonnes in the current season.

Delta farmers said that it was a tragedy that agriculturists who spent heavily to save the crop did not get a remunerative price. While the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation imposed stringent quality norms for accepting the stock, private traders offered less than the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the Centre. While the price for the fine variety of paddy was Rs. 580 a quintal and for the common variety Rs. 560, it was less than Rs. 500 in the private market.

The single food zone policy of the Centre, though ensured stability of rice price in the market, did harm to farmers. Private traders, who, a few years ago, vied with one another to purchase paddy from delta farmers, were not enthusiastic now as they were getting enough stock from the neighbouring states. While big farmers kept the stock until they got a better price, small and marginal farmers could not afford to do so as they were badly in need of money.

Meanwhile, a substantial quantity of paddy has been procured by private traders. Corporation sources said that though the price offered by private traders was less, farmers preferred them as they purchased paddy at their doorstep. If private traders increased their price in the coming weeks, the arrivals at the DPCs might dwindle. They, however, denied any distress sale by farmers, as there were two agencies — the Civil Supplies Corporation and private merchants — to whom the farmers could sell their stock.

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