Purchase exceeds production estimate - ECAS Punjab

Purchase exceeds production estimate

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8

Punjab got a cash credit limit (CCL) of Rs 35,500 crore to purchase an estimated 162 lakh metric tonne (LMT) paddy this year, based on its field data collections of production. However, the state's paddy procurement touched 179.55 LMT today.

This is almost 18 LMT over and above the estimated paddy procurement and 9 LMT over its estimated production. Comparatively, the paddy arrival during the corresponding period last year was just 142.28 LMT.

While the Food and Civil Supplies Department denies any anomaly, the disparity in figures suggests bogus billing and arrival of cheap paddy from outside the state as the key reasons for a surge in arrivals in mandis. On Saturday, almost 4 LMT reached state mandis against 3 LMT on Sunday.

As the paddy arrival continues to increase — it is estimated that another 15 LMT will reach mandis — the state government has sought an additional CCL of Rs 8,500 crore from the Reserve Bank of India for paddy purchase.

Principal Secretary, Food and Supplies, KAP Sinha says the state has sent a request to the RBI to increase the state's CCL from Rs 35,500 crore sanctioned earlier to Rs 44,000 crore. "If there are paddy arrivals, we have to purchase them," he said.

While the government is trying to brush the aside discrepancy, maintaining the productivity of paddy has gone up, agriculture experts say the highest that the yield can go up will be 10 per cent, given the weather is conducive throughout the cultivation season.

Unofficially, the agriculture department denies the yield per acre has gone up. "We have already procured 9 LMT above the production, and we expect another 15 LMT to reach the market. The crop cutting experiments are under way to assess the increase in yield, but it will be surprising if the yield were that high," says a senior government official.

Sources say this year, many traders have bought early yielding paddy directly from farmers at rates lower than the MSP and without paying taxes. This is now being shown in the records as the paddy procured from farmers. "We are monitoring arrivals and doing backward integration to see if paddy being procured is actually sourced from a farmer. This has led us to uncover the nexus between traders and commission agents and over 100 FIRs have been registered," Sinha said.



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