Nafed procures 2.02 lt from Gujarat: Centre’s groundnut procurement from state lowest in six years

According to data available with the Nafed, total 2.02 lt groundnut was procured from Gujarat between October 26 and January 12. This is only half of four lt quota initially sanctioned by the Central government, officers of Nafed said.

The central government procured 2.02 lakh metric tonnes (lt) groundnut from Gujarat at the minimum support price (MSP) in the Kharif marketing season 2020-21 — the lowest procurement since 2016.

Also, for the first time in the past six years, the groundnut procurement from the state has remained below the allotted quota.

The procurement operations also ended before schedule, as less than one-fourth of the total registered farmers sold their produce to the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed).

According to data available with the Nafed, total 2.02 lt groundnut was procured from Gujarat between October 26 and January 12. This is only half of four lt quota initially sanctioned by the Central government for physical procurement of groundnut from Gujarat under its price support scheme (PSS), officers of Nafed said.

Jayesh Radadiya, Minister of Food, Civil Supply and Consumer Affairs of Gujarat, said that the Centre had in fact approved total quota of 11 lt for Gujarat. The procurement operations came to an end on January 12, said officers of Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (GSCSCL), the Gujarat government undertaking which was engaged as the state level agency (SLA) by Nafed for running procurement operations.

Only 1.13 lakh farmers – which is around 24 per cent of 4.69 lakh farmers who had got themselves registered to sell their groundnut to the government — turned up at procurement centres set up by GSCSCL on behalf of Nafed. Out of them, groundnut of 3,558 was rejected due to not meeting fair average quality norms while crop of 109 farmers was procured.

The government had made these procurements at the MSP of Rs 5,275 per quintal and the total procurement of 2.02 lt is worth Rs 1,068 crore. Data shows that 99 per cent of farmers have been paid against procurement of their groundnut.

Nafed has been procuring groundnut, the second most important cash crop of the state after cotton, from Gujarat every year since 2016. NAFED had procured 2.16 lakh tonnes (lt) of the oilseed from Gujarat in 2016-17, which rose to 8.28 lt, 4.25 lt and 5 lt in the following three cropping years.

But this year, the procurement was happening in the backdrop of farmers’ protests in New Delhi against the three new farm laws, which farmers claim, would spell doom for agricultural produce market committee (APMC) system.

But Radadiya said the low turnout and underutilisation of quota was due to higher prices of groundnut in open market. “Market was up this year since the very beginning of the groundnut marketing season. Prices in open market were Rs 5,500 to Rs 5,750 as compared to Rs 5,275 MSP,” Radadiya told The Indian Express on Tuesday.

More than 27,000 farmers were waiting for payment as of January 4 after selling their groundnut to the government. But the minister said that was not a factor dissuading farmers to sell their oilseed to government.

“On an average, we are releasing payment to farmers within a week. This is an ongoing process but there was no delay in payments whatsoever,” he added.

SS Srivastava, manager of Ahmedabad branch of Nafed also said that higher prices of groundnut in agricultural produce market committee (APMC) mandis was the reason of overall lower procurement. “Why the farmers would come to government when he is getting Rs5400 or Rs5500 in market,” he said.

The manager also rejected suggestion of delay in payment being a factor in lower turnout of farmers. “If you analyse data of APMCs, modal rate is ruling above MSP. So, payment doesn’t come into picture,” said Srivastava.

Bhupat Kakadiya, a farmer from Magharvada village in Rajkot agrees.

“Prices in open market were higher than MSP when I carted my 15 quintal groundnut to procurement centre in Rajkot. But my groundnut seemingly looked not of best quality and I feared that I might get lower price in APMC. Therefore, I sold my groundnut to government on January 8. I got payment on January 22,” Kakadiya, who has been selling his oilseed crop to government for the past three years said, adding, “This year, the procurement was quite smooth. But the only complaint was that the government had set the MSP low.”

Even on Tuesday, modal rate of groundnut in Rajkot and Gondal APMCs, the two biggest wholesale markets of groundnut in the state, were higher than the MSP.

Kishor Viradiya, president of Saurashtra Oil Mills Association (SOMA), the Jamnagar-based organisation of oil millers, said imports from China has kept prices firm in APMCs in the state. “China has aggressively imported Indian peanuts and groundnut oil, helping keep prices of groundnut up in domestic market. Groundnut of fair average quality is selling above Rs 1,100 even today,” he said.

Data available with Agricultural & Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) shows India exported 3.69 lakh MT groundnut worth Rs 3,113 crore between April and November last year.

Gujarat is the largest producer of groundnut and the farmers had sown the oilseed crop in record 20.65 lakh hectare in last Kharif season. In its First Advanced Estimate, the state government had pegged the production of the groundnut at 54.64 lakh MT but has since revised it to 38.27 lakh MT in the Second Advanced Estimate.

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