Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation (TNCSC) on Thursday informed the Madras High Court of its decision to operate mobile Direct Purchase Centres (DPCs) to procure paddy, that meets the prescribed minimum quality standards from the registered farmers. The submission was made following a suo motu public interest litigation petition taken up by the court to prevent the harvest from getting soaked in the rains.
Appearing before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, Advocate General R. Shunmugasundaram said TNCSC Managing Director V. Rajaraman had written to him on June 14 stating that the corporation would make arrangements for operating mobile DPCs so that the harvest does not get soaked before the farmers could transport their produce to the 282 regulated markets in the State.
According to the Advocate General, the regulated markets act as a bridge between farmers and traders. They were being managed by 26 market committees constituted under the provisions of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation) Act of 1987 and the statutory rules framed thereunder in 1991. The produce brought to the regulated markets by the farmers were sold to the traders by adopting a closed tender bid method.
While the government does not collect any fees from the farmers for using the regulated market, one per cent of the value of the produce was collected towards market fee from the traders alone. Further, a licence fee was also collected from traders and the weighmen. Facilities such as storage godowns, transaction sheds, drying yards, traders’ shops and cold storage equipment were made available in those markets, he said.
Loans to farmers
Further, the government provides pledge loan facilities up to ₹3 lakh to every farmer to protect them from distress sale during glut seasons. Small and marginal farmers could avail of pledge loan up to 75% of the value of the produce and other farmers could avail up to 50% of the value of the produce. The farmers could pledge their produce and store them in the godowns for a maximum of six months on payment of 5% of interest for the loan.
The TNCSC too had been provided with space at the regulated markets for procuring paddy from the farmers. The procured paddy was stored in 469 godowns, constructed in the regulated markets by Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business Department, with a capacity of 3.34 lakh tonnes. The government had on June 3 announced that 11 more godowns with a capacity to store 16,000 tonnes would be established in Tiruvarur district.
Such additional facilities would be created in other districts too, based on the requirement, in a phased manner, he said. As far as a news report from Chellampatti village in Usilampatti division of Madurai district which led to the suo motu proceedings, Mr. Shunmugasundaram said there were six regulated markets and 19 godowns with a capacity to store 24,710 tonnes of food grains in the district.
The Usilampatti regulated market had a storable capacity of 4,800 tonnes of which only 2,305 was occupied and the balance of 2,495 tonnes of storage capacity could be used by the farmers of Chellampatti, he said. After recording his submissions, the judges adjourned the case by four weeks for filing another comprehensive report and making sure that the farmers never face the problem of their produce getting soaked for want of storage facilities.
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