Improvements in paddy procurement in seven years

The State Government has brought about a lot of improvement in the procurement of paddy and in the quality control mechanism of the foodgrains bought from farmers. Storage capacity infrastructure has also undergone a sea change.

A significant step has been the institution of NEFT mechanism for directly paying farmers through account transfer against the paddy bought from them. This process has made payment easier and quicker, and for this reason, was recently taken up as a model by the Centre for implementation across all States.

The Food & Supplies Department has notched up quite a few successes in the procurement of paddy and custom milled rice (CMR) during the last seven years.

They are as follows:

Krishak Bazars also as paddy procurement centres: From kharif marketing season (KMS) 2014-15, the purchasing of paddy through Krishak Bazars has become prevalent.

Procurement centres increased: In KMS 2014-15, 46 Krishak Bazars having the required infrastructural facilities were identified as centralised procurement centres (CPC). Over just four seasons, that number was increased to 325 (in KMS 2017-18). At the same time, cooperative societies continue to function as paddy procurement centres for CMR agencies; 950 cooperative societies functioned as such for KMS 2017-18.

Farmers incentivised: In order to incentivise farmers for bringing in their paddy to CPCs, in KMS 2014-15, Rs 15 per quintal of paddy was allowed over and above the MSP of Rs 1,360 per quintal. In KMS 2017-18, it was enhanced to Rs 20 per quintal.

Electronic means introduced for procurement and payment: From KMS 2016-17, it was made mandatory to employ e-procurement software capable of recording all relevant information of the farmers as well as recording the details of transactions and payments.

From KMS 2016-17, the system of payment of the price of paddy directly to the farmers’ bank accounts through NEFT was introduced, and was made mandatory from KMS 2017-18. Significantly, electronic payment through NEFT has been recently taken up as a model by the Centre.

Participation of women’s self-help groups: Participation of women’s self-help groups (SHG) and sanghas in paddy procurement is being encouraged. Till March 2018, 300 SHGs have participated in KMS 2017-18 and have procured 31,217 metric tonnes (MT) of paddy from 9,600 small and marginal farmers.

Distress sale eliminated: As a result of the Food & Supplies Department’s procurement initiatives, no distress sale of paddy has been reported in KMS 2017-18. The market rate of paddy has increased and thus it is above MSP across the entire State.

Enhancement of storage capacity

The Food & Supplies Department has created an additional 7.85 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of storage capacity during the period of 2011 to 2018. As a result, the storage capacity has increased from just 63,000 MT in FY 2010-11 to 8.48 lakh MT in May 2017.

Moreover, the department has taken up an ambitious project for the creation of another 3 lakh MT of storage space within the next two years at a cost of Rs 500 crore. With this project, the department will achieve self-sufficiency in the storage of rice.

Quality control mechanism

In order to keep a check on the quality of the foodgrains bought from farmers and of those available in markets, the Food & Supplies Department has taken several initiatives for upgrading laboratories and constructing new ones, through the Directorate of Inspection and Quality Control (I&QC).

Quality control (QC) laboratories in Kolkata (headquarters), Krishnanagar and Bardhaman have been upgraded and modernised. Specialised laboratory furniture and modern benchtop digital refractometers have been set up in the laboratories in Kolkata and Bardhaman.

Seventy-five mini QC laboratories have been set up in government warehouses and 120 in private warehouses.

A target has been set for the construction of four more zonal QC laboratories in Siliguri, Malda, Suri and Medinipur and 15 more laboratories in the offices of district controllers of food and supplies (DCF&S).

In the agriculture sector, Bangla has been one of the best-performing States, acknowledged by the Central Government several times and awarded the Krishi Karman Award for five consecutive years. The government has ensured that not just in production but in procurement and quality control too, processes are streamlined and modern methods adopted.

Khadya Sathi: Food security for Bangla

In the last seven years, the Bangla Government has ensured food security for 90% of the State’s population. Khadya Sathi is one of the flagship programmes of the Bangla Government, implemented by the Food & Supplies Department.

In fact, managing a targeted public distribution system (TPDS) and procurement of paddy and rice at MSP to prevent distressed sale are the principal activities of this department, and the Khadya Sathi Scheme is an integral part of these activities.

The major challenge is to ensure the reach of subsidised foodgrains to the poorest of the poor.

Beneficiaries increased manifold

In financial year (FY) 2010-11, 2.74 crore people in Bangla were getting rice at Rs 2 per kg. This covered only the people under below poverty line (BPL) and Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) categories. In order to improve the access to food for the vulnerable sections, the coverage was increased manifold in the following seven years by the Trinamool Congress Government.

The flagship programme, Khadya Sathi was launched in January 2016. As of now, it ensures food security for around 8.59 crore people. Out of this, 7.20 crore people belonging to disadvantaged sections of society, who get rice and wheat at Rs 2 per kg and the comparatively well-off 1.39 crore people get foodgrains at half the market price.

Special categories

Out of the 7.2 crore people, 48.07 lakh beneficiaries are covered under special packages for the Jangalmahal region, Cyclone Aila-affected families, unwilling land-giving farmers of Singur, workers and non-workers of closed tea gardens, Hill areas, Toto tribe (staying in Totopara), and other destitute and homeless people. The achievement shows the exponential growth in coverage of people under PDS.

Special package for severely acute malnourished children

Part of the Khadya Sathi Scheme is a special package for severely acute malnourished (SAM) children. This nutrition programme is implemented in association with Health & Family Welfare Department. As part of this, from FY 2014-15, free-of-cost nutritional support is being provided to approximately 5,200 SAM category children and their mothers. The package consists of 5 kg rice, 2.5 kg wheat, 1 kg masoor dal and 1kg Bengal gram per month.

Thus, through the Khadya Sathi scheme, Mamata Banerjee-led Bangla Government is ensuring nutritional security for people of all ages across the length and breadth of the State. Access to proper food is no longer an issue now.

Co-operation Dept to develop 23 modern storage facilities

In a bid to increase the storage capacity of food grains in Bengal, the state Co-operation department has decided to develop 23 modern storage facilities in the districts.

The step has been taken following directions and vision of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to strengthen the cooperative infrastructure that will ensure increase in storage capacity of food grains.

The 23 store houses will be developed at a cost of Rs 240 crore and each of the store houses will be of a capacity of 10,000 metric tonne. So with construction of the store houses by the cooperation department, there will be an increase in the storage capacity by 2.30 lakh metric tonne.

The store houses will be developed on the land owned by the department and there would be requirement of around three acres to set up each of the store houses. The land will also be identified soon.

The state co-operation department has also set a target of procuring 30 lakh metric tonne paddy through co-operative societies in the current procurement year and a seminar was recently held at Netaji Indoor Stadium in this regard in which the Chief Minister had directed to take measures to create the necessary infrastructure.

At the same time, as many as 17 more store houses will be set up by the state Food and Supplies department. NABARD is giving the amount to the state government as loan to set up the store houses under the Warehousing Infrastructure Fund of the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

It may be mentioned that the storage capacity of food grains is 62,000 metric tonne in 2010-11. At present, it has increased to around 6.10 lakh metric tonne with several steps being taken by the state government in the past six years that will further increase with the setting up of the upcoming store houses.


রাজ্যে তৈরী হবে আরও ২৩টি গুদামঘর

জেলায় জেলায় ২৩টি অত্যাধুনিক গুদাম তৈরীর সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছে রাজ্য সমবায় দপ্তর। রাজ্যে খাদ্যশস্য ঘাটতি মেটানোর যে প্রচেষ্টা শুরু করেছেন মুখ্যমন্ত্রী মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়, সেই উদ্দেশ্যে এই সিদ্ধান্ত নেওয়া হয়েছে।

প্রতিটি গুদামের ধারন ক্ষমতা হবে ১০০০০ মেট্রিক টন। সুতরাং ২৩টি গুদামঘর নির্মাণ সম্পন্ন হলে, রাজ্যে গুদামের ক্ষমতা আরও ২.৩ লক্ষ মেট্রিক টন বাড়বে।
রাজ্য সমবায় দপ্তরের লক্ষ্য চলতি বছরে সমবায়ের মাধ্যমে ৩০ লক্ষ মেট্রিক টন চাল উৎপাদনের। সম্প্রতি এই উদ্দেশ্যে নেতাজী ইনডোর স্টেডিয়ামে একটি সেমিনার অনুষ্ঠিত হয়, যেখানে মুখ্যমন্ত্রী প্রয়োজনীয় পদক্ষেপ নিতে নির্দেশ দেন। এর পাশাপাশি আরও ১৭টি গুদাম নির্মাণ করবে খাদ্য ও সরবরাহ দপ্তর।

প্রসঙ্গত, ২০১০-১১ সালে রাজ্যের গুদামে খাদ্যশস্য রাখার ক্ষমতা ছিল ৬২০০০ মেট্রিক টন। বর্তমানে সেই ক্ষমতা বেড়ে ৬.১০ লক্ষ মেট্রিক টনে পৌঁছেছে। ভবিষ্যতে এই ক্ষমতা আরও বাড়ানো হবে রাজ্য সরকারের সহায়তায়।