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Paddy prod to farmer clubs

State procurement focus on seven districts

Snehamoy Chakraborty   |   Calcutta   |   Published 16.01.23, 03:49 AM

The Bengal government has decided to involve 54 new farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in seven Bengal districts, including the state’s rice bowl East Burdwan, in a bid to give momentum to paddy procurement. 

These new 54 FPOs will operate under the agricultural marketing department in seven districts — Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Hooghly, West Midnapore, Bankura, and East and West Burdwan — where paddy procurement is unsatisfactory.


Each FPO is a cluster of 500-1,000 farmers. There are 256 FPOs involved in the paddy procurement process across Bengal. 

Recent reports from the districts suggest that the state government is lagging behind in its procurement target.  

So far, Bengal could procure only 21.15 lakh tonnes of paddy out of its target of 55 lakh tonnes. The progress is considered to be poor as the post-Kharif harvesting period is considered to be the peak time for procurement.

The Kharif crop was harvested between mid-November and early December.

“The 54 new FPOs will be engaged in the procurement process from next week in seven Bengal districts where the procurement process needs a boost now. As FPOs are farmer associations or clubs, they can convince their members to sell products to the state government,” said a senior food and supply department official. 

Sources said each FPO has been asked to ensure that all its members sell their paddy to the government. 

Mallarpur Naisuva Farmers’ Producers Organisation, a Birbhum-based FPO, has requested all its 550 members to sell their produce only at government rates. 

“We can’t force farmers to hold back their produce, but have requested them not to sell their produce to private buyers,” said Utpal Sinha, who heads the FPO.

Sources said the decision to involve more FPOs in the procurement process was taken after it was found that 330-odd permanent procurement centres were not good enough to cater to 70 lakh farmers of the state.

Procuring paddy from small and marginal farmers — 80 per cent of Bengal’s 70 lakh farmers — is important for the ruling establishment as panchayat polls are nearing.

“Small and marginal farmers cannot hold back their produce for long as they need cash in hand quickly. Without enough procurement centres, many farmers can’t sell their produce to the government on time, and sell private buyers at a lower rate. Engaging more FPOs can solve the problem to an extent,” said a source.

The state government wants to hasten the procurement process as its pet “cheap grain” scheme depends heavily on paddy procurement.

“The scheme requires about 3 lakh tonnes of rice a month. With existing stock, it can run for another two months. If at least 75 per cent of the procurement target of 55 lakh tonnes of paddy is not met, it will be tough to run the scheme,” said a source.

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