After drought, bumper paddy crop cheers Bihar farmers

December 12th, 2011 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sushil Kumar Patna, Dec 12 (IANS) Ramesh Singh and Satender Yadav are in a relaxed frame of mind these days. After two years of successive drought, a bumper paddy crop this season has come as a huge relief to millions of farmers like them in Bihar who are eagerly waiting for government procurement to commence.

“We are waiting to sell our crop. I will not sell at throwaway prices to local traders after the state government has announced their procurement plans,” said Singh, who owns nearly seven bighas of land in Naubatpur village on the outskirts of Patna.

“We are thankful to god for normal rain and this bumber crop. Now we are eagerly looking to sell our produce to government agencies at the MSP (minimum support price),” Yadav told IANS.

Officials in the agriculture department expect an output of eight million tonnes of paddy this season. Last year, the state produced just about 3.5 million tonnes of the crop due to rain shortage.

Harvesting of paddy continues till January and the procurement lasts till April. According to the MSP announced by the central government, farmers will get Rs.1,080 per quintal of paddy, up from last year’s price of Rs.1,010.

“We have worked very hard for this. Unlike 2010 and the year before, the bumper crops this time has provided a new lease of life to farmers like us,” Singh said.

Agiculture department officials said farmers would be paid within 24 hours of stock sale.

Development Commissioner Ashok Kumar Sinha said he has directed the officials concerned to show an “election-like urgency” towards early procurement of paddy.

“The state government has already initiated a move to speed up the procurement,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said: “Government agencies would procure three million tonnes of paddy at MSP at an estimated cost of Rs.2,700 crore.”

The remaining stock of around five million tonnes would go towards the domestic consumption needs of this state of more than 100 million people.

The state government has already approved a Rs.800-crore loan to cooperative banks in the state for procurement.

Last year the situation was grave for farmers as the state suffered its second consecutive drought.

In August 2010, the Bihar government declared all the 38 districts drought-hit due to a rainfall deficit of nearly 25 percent. Inadequate rains had severely hit paddy sowing and transplantation in most districts except Araria, East and West Champaran.

In 2009, the government declared 26 districts drought-hit.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at imran.k@ians.in)

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