Farmers favour open market over DPCs to sell paddy in Ramanathapuram (Tamil Nadu)

With the paddy harvest season drawing to an end in Ramanathapuram district, procurement centres in the district have not seen many patrons as farmers are opting to sell their produce in the open market where the prices are better.

Though the harvest season was among the largest, with paddy cultivated on nearly 1.39 lakh hectares of land during the samba season, crop on nearly 10,000 hectares was damaged after the unseasonal rains. Even though there was a drop in output due to rain damage, many farmers saw prominent yields this year and were able to get 25-30 bags per acre on average this season.

During the previous seasons, the district had produced a total of 4 lakh tonnes of paddy during the samba season, following which the civil supplies department had placed a procurement target of 1 lakh metric tonnes of paddy.

Last year, owing to a drought situation, the procurement was lesser than usual. The civil supplies department had opened nearly 70 direct procurement centres (DPCs) across the district to procure samba paddy. Notably, this is the first time that so many DPCs were opened in the district.

 However, by the third of February, an average of 5,000 tonnes of paddy was procured at DPCs this year. Agriculture department officials said that by the end of this season, the procurement is likely to go up to 10,000-15,000 tonnes this year. An increase in procurement prices in the open market has brought down the quantity sold at DPCs, officials stated.

Even though the agriculture department has utilised storage facilities and opened more DPCs, the procurement rate remains minimal.

 Ravi, a farmer from Ramanathapuram said that farmers get about Rs23 per kilo of paddy at DPCs, whereas the prices of fine varieties in the open market are well above Rs25 per kilo. “The RNR variety, which is favourable among the farmers, is being sold at nearly Rs28 per kilo in the open market, which is why farmers are favouring the open market over the DPCs,” he said.

 Many farmers have demanded the state and Union government to increase the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy to Rs25-30 per kilo.

This article has been republished from The New Indian Express.

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