Express News Service

RAIPUR: With an increase of 48,000 hectares this year in the area over which paddy is grown, leading to augmented production during the current kharif season, the Chhattisgarh government has increased the procurement limit further from last year’s 92 to 105 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) as a new target this year.

The state cabinet sub-committee while enhancing the upper procurement limit announced that the process would be started from December 1. 

During the last kharif season, the state had to struggle to make use of the procured paddy after the Food Corporation of India (FCI) lifted its given quota, leaving 20.5 LMT as surplus, following which the state cabinet took a crucial decision to auction the excess. But the e-auctioning couldn’t fetch the expected results as not many firms appeared keen to buy paddy through online bidding at the given rates.

This year again, the sub-committee was left with little choice as Chhattisgarh is set to reap a bumper harvest.

Going by the major election pledges of the Congress, the Baghel government continues its focus on farmers with the launch of the Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojana under which the farmers are getting their paddy minimum support price (MSP) amount of Rs 2500 directly in their bank accounts from 2019.

With the high assured MSP now, many farmers are sowing paddy.

Officials of the agriculture department said that this year there is an addition of around 2.5 lakh farmers who got themselves registered for sale of their paddy at various state-owned mandis and societies.

“With an addition of 48000 hectares of net sown area, it is estimated that the overall paddy production might touch 140 LMT this year,” said an official.

However, what further aggravates the apprehensions of the Chhattisgarh government is the Centre’s recent decision to lift only ‘arwa’ rice (61 LMT through the FCI) but not ‘usna’ rice for the central pool.

“We have urged the Centre to revise the decision and also consider ‘usna’ rice, otherwise it would lead to problems for our state,” said Amarjeet Bhagat, the food minister.

The Chhattisgarh government has been attempting to encourage farmers to opt for crops other than paddy. For this, they have been offered an input subsidy of Rs 10000 per acre for cultivating crops identified by the government other than paddy from the 2021-22 kharif season.

However, the state witnessed a significant increase in the cultivation area of paddy by over 6 percent. Paddy production is expected to rise by over 10 percent this year.

Chhattisgarh is known as the rice bowl of the country, being one of the largest producers.