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Millers' threat puts farmers in a fix

G. Nagaraja

Warn suspension of procurement if demands, including creation of sufficient godown space, not met


Over 12 lakh tonnes of kharif paddy expected to arrive in West Godavari district alone

Space available in godowns now is hardly sufficient for storage of 10,000 tonnes


– Photo: A.V.G. Prasad

Making space: Grains spilling out of the damaged gunny bags while being lifted from a godown near Vijayarai in West Godavari district on Monday.

ELURU: Farmers, who raised paddy in the face of cyclones and floods, are now worried about a new problem -- the takers for their produce in light of threats by millers to suspend procurement if the government fails to concede their demands, which includes creation of sufficient godown space.

In a bind

Over 12 lakh tonnes of kharif paddy is expected to arrive in West Godavari district alone whereas the space available in godowns now is hardly sufficient for storage of 10,000 tonnes. Like the farmers, the millers too are in a bind as they have to procure 6 lakh tonnes to meet the levy targets, according to M.V. Suryanarayana Raju of the Andhra Pradesh Rytu Karyacharana Samithi.

In all, the godowns of both the State and Central government agencies have a storage capacity of seven lakh tonnes in the district. Over 60,000 tonnes of wheat stocks procured from Punjab have piled up in the local godowns for the last two years.

Although the government's decision to lift 18 lakh tonnes of boiled rice from various godowns across the State following a request reportedly made by Bangladesh (3 lakh tonnes) and for supplying to the Public Distribution Systems in West Bengal and Bihar appears to be a silver lining for the farmers.

However, the inability of the Railways to deploy adequate number of rakes to lift the stocks poses a big problem.

According to Yerneni Nagendranadh of the A. P. Rytanga Samakhya, at least 700 rakes are required to lift the 18 lakh tonnes of boiled rice. But the railways could deploy only 13 rakes so far and lifted only 35,000 tonnes. Farmers in the Krishna and the Godavari deltas are growing restive over the uncertainty regarding paddy.

The Rytanga Samakhya, which organised a convention of farmers in Gudivada earlier this month, will hold a similar programme in Tadepalligudem on October 21.

It has appealed to the government to avert distress sales by farmers ensuring a minimum support price of Rs. 1.000 a quintal.

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