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Bengal govt to launch scheme for kharif paddy procurement

Kolkata, The West Bengal government is planning to roll out a scheme to procure kharif paddy for its public distribution system, as it seeks to maintain unhindered supply of free rice to nearly 10 crore people till next June, a state minister said on Tuesday.

Under the scheme, the government aims to enrol over 30 lakh farmers, state food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriya Mallick said.

Nearly 13 lakh of an estimated 72 lakh paddy farmers in West Bengal have registered themselves for the scheme so far, he said.

“We are planning to reach out to as many farmers as possible, with an aim to procure paddy to maintain unhindered supply of rice for our public distribution system. The scheme will be rolled out soon and we will start procuring paddy later this month,” Mallick explained.

A super harvest this season and low demand have hit paddy prices, which have fallen below the government-announced minimum support price (MSP), a senior official of the agriculture department said.

“We are planning to impose a ceiling on the amount of paddy to be procured from each farmer. This will help us enrol more and more farmers under this scheme,” he said.

The government is planning to procure around 45 quintals of paddy from each farmer.

Last year, the maximum procurement went up to 90 quintals for every farmer at an MSP of Rs 1,868 per quintal.

“The price, this time, is yet to be fixed. It will be done keeping in mind the interest of the farmers,” the official said.

The state also has plans to set up a special surveillance system to ensure that the enrolled farmers sell their harvest to the government and not to hoarders, he added. PTI