It has 3.5 lakh tonnes of rice

CHENNAI: The State Government has a comfortable rice stock: 3.5 lakh tonnes of rice and four lakh tonnes of paddy.

The Food Corporation of India also has five lakh tonnes of rice.

With an average off-take of 2.8 lakh tonnes a month at the public distribution system, the stock will last for three-four months, says an official of the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation, which looks after paddy procurement.

Samba procurement is almost over in the delta districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam, with direct purchase centres getting less than 1,000 tonnes of paddy a day against an average arrival of 18,000 tonnes during the peak period. At present 861 centres were functioning in the districts against 1,161 centres during the peak season.

So far this season, the Corporation has procured 15.9 lakh tonnes of paddy, including 3.3 lakh tonnes of kuruvai.

K. Shanmugham, chairman and managing director of the corporation, says that during this period last year, the daily arrival was 2,000 tonnes a day. This year it was only 800-900 tonnes.

As against the corporation's price of Rs. 650 a quintal, private traders offer Rs. 700. So farmers sell them their produce. The present rate of arrival will continue for one more month.

The purchase centres will start getting paddy again from October after the kuruvai harvest.

However, private traders here say the paddy trade passes through a tough time, as the off-take is poor.

Sale hit

The sale was hit by the Rs. 2 a kg scheme. This in turn affected the farmers as they could not get remunerative price. While the farmers in the delta districts have an assured buyer (the Civil Supplies Corporation), those in other parts depend on private merchants. What with the bad market condition, private merchants are not ready to pay remunerative price.

D. Thulasingam of the Federation of Tamil Nadu Paddy and Rice Merchants Associations says a substantial number of farmers in and around Kancheepuram and Tiruvellore districts have sold their land, as farming is not at all profitable. This apart, agricultural workers are not available, a majority of them having migrated to the city for other employment.

If the situation continues, he predicts, there will be a shortage of rice in future.