Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Sunday announced that the State government will procure the entire yield at minimum support price (MSP) announced by the Centre.

The State government will spend nearly Rs 30,000 crore to procure about 1.05 crore tonnes of paddy and another 14.5 lakh tonnes of maize from farmers.

“The market price for maize is as low as Rs 800 per quintal, but the State will purchase it at MSP of Rs 1,760 per quintal. Similarly, paddy will be procured at MSP of around Rs 1,835-Rs 1,855 per quintal,” he announced. In case of millers or traders planning to purchase paddy from farmers, he insisted that they pay MSP to farmers for the entire yield. He is scheduled to hold a meeting with rice millers on Monday in this regard.

Speaking to mediapersons after his video conference with the District Collectors, Superintendents of Police and other officials at Pragathi Bhavan here, Rao said the district coordination committees led by the respective Collectors would convene a meeting and finalise the schedule for procurement of paddy, maize and other crops.

“We have closed all markets to avoid crowds due to COVID-19. Entire yield will be procured by the government directly from farmers through village procurement centres over a period of 45 days,” he said.

The Chief Minister insisted that farmers maintain restraint and practice self-discipline during paddy procurement. “Tokens will be issued to each farmer to bring their produce to the local procurement centre. In case, a farmer decides to bring paddy in advance, it will not be purchased by the government. The idea is to avoid crowds which could spread coronavirus,” he added.

Farmers were advised to bring their bank passbook and account number where the amount would be transferred directly into the bank accounts of farmers at a later date. Rao stated that lot of arrangements were being made for harvesting, procurement, milling and storage of paddy.

With majority of harvesting being done by harvesters, the district authorities have been directed to identify those who can mount harvesters on tractors and begin the works. Proposals were also being considered to open necessary shops to supply spare parts for taking up repairs to harvesters.

“There are only 5,000 harvesters in the State for paddy harvesting. Officials will identify them and provide necessary passes to carry forward with their work,” he said. Simultaneously, the agricultural extension officers would issue tokens to farmers based on which paddy would be procured.

The Chief Minister urged people, especially farmers, to understand the war like situation prevailing across the world. He reiterated that farmers must not rush to the procurement centres in large numbers.

Several migrant labourers from Bihar and other States who work in different sectors including agricultural yield transportation, left for their native places for Holi celebrations and majority of them were unable to return to the State. To avoid dearth of manpower for transporting the procured crop, the Chief Secretary was consulting his counterparts in other States and making efforts for their transportation to Telangana State.

As against the requirement of 75 lakh gunny bags to store food grains, the State government had only 35 lakh bags and efforts were being made to obtain them from various States.

Rao wanted the sarpanches and Rythu Bandhu Samithi members to take the lead and facilitate paddy and maize procurement.

He advised them to remove fences and walls erected by the villagers to facilitate movement of vehicles for transportation of essential commodities, harvesters and other vehicular movement. He insisted that the officials also should streamline movement of vehicles at inter-State borders for supply of essential commodities.

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