The current low prices of paddy in the open market seems to have been caused by sluggish demand for the grain after the free food grain distribution through ration shops for the past eight months under Atmanirbhar Bharat plan.
In several districts of Uttar Pradesh such as Badaun, Lakhimpur, Maharajganj, Fatehpur and Etawah farmers are selling paddy at Rs 1,400-1,500 per quintal in mandis run by agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) while the rates are even lower outside the mandis, at Rs 1100-1200.
The Uttar Pradesh government has already purchased about 50 lakh tonnes of paddy, so far. Last year, the state had collected about 57 lakh tonnes of paddy equivalent to about 38 lakh tonnes of rice. The procurement will continue until January 15 in western UP and till February 15 in other parts of the state.
The state is preparing to buy 60 lakh tonnes this year. But, unless there is an increase in demand, prices will not go up. The prices are expected to rise once more exports of rice take place.
Uttar Pradesh is country’s second-largest rice producer after West Bengal with annual production at 130-135 lakh tonnes, a notch higher than Punjab. But the crop area under paddy in UP is nearly double than that of Punjab, which points to wider scope in crop diversification by raising the productivity of paddy in the existing area of cultivation.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday launched a programme – Kisan Kalyan Mission – a day-long exhibition to be held in three phases in all the 825 blocks by January 21. The programme is mainly aimed at countering the farmers’ resentment against the three farm laws following the on-going protest at different entry points of Delhi.
The plan to hold such gatherings at block level was conceived after the December 25 virtual address by prime minister Narendra Modi, which was organized at the district level. The objective behind holding these day-long exhibitions is to ensure how farmers get the benefits of all schemes.