With the commencement of paddy harvest in a few pockets of the double-crop region in the district, farmers have urged the district administration to open Direct Purchase Centres (DPCs) in these areas. Steps have to be taken to avoid any mismanagement or corruption at these centres, they say.
Joint Director of Agriculture T. Vivekanandan said paddy crop on around 5,000 hectares would be harvested within the next 15 days in Vadipatti, Madurai East and Madurai North blocks. Water was released in the last week of August to irrigate the first crop of the double-crop area in the district.
Apart from the double-crop region, paddy was also being harvested in a few villages of Kottampatti and Melur blocks, said N. Palanichamy, president of Tamil Nadu Sugarcane Farmers’ Association from Melur block.
M. Tirupathi, a farmer from Kulamangalam, stressed the need for early opening of the DPCs. While one bag of rice was sold for ₹800 to ₹900 in the open market, the farmers could earn an additional ₹400 for each bag if they sold it at the DPCs, he said. “The opening of the DPCs will ensure that the farmers are not exploited by traders. The open market rate for rice will also increase,” he added.
In the past, there were several complaints of mismanagement and irregularities in the functioning of the DPCs. G. Murugan, a farmer from Mannadi Mangalam in Vadipatti block, said many times the traders bought rice for a lower rate from the farmers and sold it at a higher rate at the DPCs. “Members of Farmers Producers Groups must be entrusted with the responsibility of managing the DPCs,” he said.
A district-level monitoring committee with 14 members, including district administration and Agriculture Department officials and six farmers, had been formed to prevent DPC mismanagement, said Mr. Vivekanandan.
S. Dharmaraj, a farmer from Karuppayurani and a member of the committee, said farmers had to pay ₹40 for each bag of rice at the DPCs as ‘labour charges’. “The practice of farmers paying for weighing, packing and loading of rice at the DPCs has been prevalent for many years. Ideally, the government must pay the charges. The committee will ensure that this practice is ended,” he said.
Mr. Vivekanandan said details of area coverage of paddy in all blocks and tentative date of harvest had been submitted to the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation. “The authorities concerned have told that the DPCs will be opened from next week,” he added.