Patna, Jan 17 (IANS) Government agencies in drought-hit Bihar have procured less than two percent of paddy in the last two months against the target of 24 lakh tonnes this kharif season, officials said Friday.
“In the last sixty days since the procurement season kicked off, the government agencies have made paddy procurement of only 60,000 tonnes,” an official of the state agriculture department said.
Another official of the department told IANS that slow procurement of paddy so far shows the poor record of the concerned agencies.
“It is going to be a big challenge for the government agencies to procure 25,000 tonnes of paddy on a daily basis from now to fulfil the target by April 15,” the official said.
However, Bihar Food and Civil Supplies Minister Shyam Rajak said government is hopeful of achieving its target.
“In fact, paddy procurement will speed up by the end of January or in the beginning of February. We will try best to fulfil the target,” Rajak said.
According to officials, slow procurement of paddy is a result of government’s failure to open procurement centres in all panchayats.
“The government announced it would open 6,098 procurement centres at Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies in panchayats but only 1,074 centres were opened till Thursday,” an official said.
According to reports from different districts, the slow procurement has forced farmers to go for distress sell of paddy to traders and agents of rice mills.
Rajak claimed the agencies have been asked to check distress sell of paddy and to help farmers by procuring their paddy without delay.
The drought has affected hundreds of thousands of people, particularly farmers, in Bihar. Last year the government declared 33 of its 38 districts as drought-hit on account of poor rains during monsoon. The state recorded 25 percent deficit in its annual rainfall.
After attaining record paddy production of over 80 lakh tonnes in the last kharif season, Bihar has harvested around 50 lakh tonnes of paddy this year as poor rains in July-August badly hit transplantation of paddy.
Rice production in Bihar was 36.4 lakh tonnes in 2009-10 which increased to 81.87 lakh tonnes in 2011-12 and 87 lakh tonnes in 2012-13.