Paddy farmers` organization warn of protest,demand procurement price of Rs 31.35 per kg

A steering committee meeting of ‘Nel Karshaka Samrakshana Samiti’ has decided to go on a warpath if the Government fails to provide a procurement price of Rs 31.35 per kg. Photo:Special arrangement.

Alappuzha: The Minimum Support Price (MSP) will be a hotly debated topic in Kerala in the run-up to the parliamentary election, with farmers threatening to protest if the State Government continues to effect a cut in paddy procurement incentive.

A steering committee meeting of ‘Nel Karshaka Samrakshana Samiti’, a major organization of paddy farmers, held at Mankombu here on Sunday, decided to go on a warpath if the Government fails to provide a procurement price of Rs 31.35 per kg.

"Earlier, the State used to provide us a higher procurement price to commensurate with that of the Centre. But the last few years saw the government repeatedly reduce the incentive despite the Centre raising the MSP. The sector is very distressed this time and we want to get the support price of Rs 21.83 being allocated by the Centre and an incentive of Rs 9.52 from the state," Sonichan Pulinkunnu, Secretary, told Onmanorama.

The government reduced the incentive by Rs 72 paise per kg in 2021-22, and Rs 1.72 paise per kg in 2022-23. It has announced a cut of Rs 3.15 per kg in the financial year 2023-24. As per the Economic Review Report of 2022, a farmer incurs Rs 78,000 as the expense for rice cultivation on one-hectare land.

The harvest of the second crop of paddy is set to begin this week. With the weather not being much of a threat, the farmers expect a decent yield. As per rough estimates, the Government, through SupplyCo, would have to procure nearly six lakh metric tons of paddy, which would cost a whopping Rs 1700 crore.

The Samiti has also put forward three other demands. "The government has fixed 22 quintals as the maximum paddy to be procured from one acre, while this time, we expect the production to touch 30 quintals of paddy per acre. This means there is no means to get revenue out of the eight additional quintals," Sonichan added.

The farmer’s organization also demanded an increase in the handling charges being provided to them. " The processing charges for one quintal paddy were Rs45 in 2005-06 when the government provided Rs12 as handling charge. Years rolled by and now the processing expense has risen to Rs 300 per quintal. But we’re still being given Rs12 as handling charge," said Rajeena Ashraff Kanjiram, the Association President.

A section of farmers is yet to get the paddy procurement price in 2022-23. A total of 1,35, 000 metric tonnes of paddy was procured after the harvest of the first crop of paddy. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijana will meet with the farmers' representatives on March 2 to discuss the issue.

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