The year started on a discordant note as farmers began to air concerns over delay in procurement of paddy and the introduction of a lengthy process, which includes registration in the e-crop portal, verification at multiple levels, and e-KYC of farmers.
The delay has forced many farmers to sell paddy at lesser rates and this has been pointed out several times by elected representatives at various meetings.
Paddy procurement remains one of the key areas of concerns. The Civil Supplies Department, the nodal department for the process, often faces flak for either delay in paddy procurement or irregularities committed by field-level staff or lesser rates offered by millers. The connivance of millers and the department personnel cannot be ruled out.
The lid was blown recently when a senior leader of YSRCP and MP Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose levelled serious allegations that several bogus entries were made in the e-crop portal by the Civil Supplies Department personnel and millers and that money was diverted into the accounts of fake beneficiaries. The State government ordered an inquiry but no action has been taken so far.
Soon after coming to power, the YSRCP government introduced Rythu Bharosa Kendras and declared them as Paddy Procurement Centres. Farmers would have to get registered at the RBKs. A series of awareness sessions have been held by volunteers and agricultural assistants at village secretariats and agricultural advisory boards on the steps to register in the e-crop portal, e-KYC etc.
At present, paddy is being procured at 6,884 RBKs from farmers, including tenant farmers. The government has made the moves with the right intentions by involving procurement support agencies, primary agricultural cooperative credit societies and district cooperative marketing societies. The RBKs have been strengthened by recruiting 21,000 personnel.
“The State government has introduced a foolproof paddy procurement system to eliminate corruption. Farmers are being handheld right from the stage of sowing seeds to marketing of crop. The process of procurement is being done from each farmer based on the potential yield according to the variety of paddy decided by the Agricultural Department. The next step is to generate coupons at RBKs for procurement mentioning date and time of procurement. A copy of the coupon will be given to farmers with information regarding the Minimum Support Price. We have also started Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS) for easy identification of genuine beneficiaries and making payment to them without any delay,” says VC and MD of AP State Civil Supplies Corporation G. Veerapandian. So far, 40.48 lakh MT of paddy has been procured and ₹7,879.08 crore paid to farmers during Kharif 2021-22.
The technical staff at the RBKs visit fields and collect samples of paddy for testing their adherence to the quality specifications. The staff at the Paddy Procurement Centres (PPC) arrange gunny bags, hamalies for filling, weighing, stitching and loading of paddy and also trucks for shifting the paddy from farm gate to rice mills.
Later, a list of paid farmers is displayed at the RBK from whom paddy is purchased during the last season. The crop bookings are also subjected to Social Audit.
Mr. Veerapandian says that the number of Procurement Centres have been tripled to ensure coverage of the last farmer located in the farthest places. All the Procurement Supporting Agencies (PSAs) are also using the mobile app developed for the purpose besides the PPS portal. Advance amounts are being released to the Procurement Supporting Agencies (PSAs) in time.
Control rooms have been established at the State and district level to redress the grievances received from farmers through toll-free numbers — 1902 , 1800 425 1903 and 155251 — during procurement season, he adds.