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Kuruvai procurement poor, expectations belied

By S. Vydhianathan

CHENNAI, NOV. 25. Kuruvai paddy procurement by the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) in the delta districts this season was much below expectations.

As against its target of one lakh tonnes, the corporation has purchased just 16,500 tonnes, according to official sources.

Under normal circumstances, about 2.07 lakh hectares is brought under kuruvai. This year, due to inadequate release of water from the Mettur reservoir, only farmers with borewells raised kuruvai on about 55,000 hectares.

About three lakh tonnes of paddy was produced in the delta districts, the average productivity being six tonnes a hectare. Of this, the corporation expected that at least one lakh tonnes would arrive at direct purchase centres. But they could procure only 16,500 tonnes. Except in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur, paddy arrival at DPCs in all districts was almost nil. In Thanjavur, about 12,000 tonnes was purchased and in Tiruvarur 4,500 tonnes, against the normal procurement of four lakh-five lakh tonnes in the districts during the kuruvai season.

Officials say private merchants are paying a good price for paddy and hence the poor arrivals at DPCs. They are ready to pay more than the minimum support price of Rs. 590 a tonne for the A grade variety and Rs. 560 for the common variety. Unlike as at DPCs, where farmers are asked to bring their stocks, private merchants are lifting paddy on the doorstep of farmers.

However, the officials said, the Government's objective of ensuring a fair price to farmers was achieved, as there was no report of distress sale.

Strict norms

Farmers complained that strict quality norms fixed by the TNCSC on behalf of the Food Corporation of India were responsible for the poor response. First the moisture content was fixed at 17 per cent and increased to 20 per cent. Even if the moisture content was less than 20 per cent, the DPC staff rejected the stock stating it had immature grain above the prescribed limit.

But the TNCSC sources said the corporation had to adhere to FCI norms.

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