States to decide on pulse procurement: Centre amid shutdown extension buzz

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New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) The government has left it to the states on when to start procurement of pulses and oilseeds under the Price Support Scheme (PSS), amid buzz of an extension of the ongoing 21-day nationwide shutdown.
However, the procurement will continue for 90 days. This was decided after Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar held a video conference with Agriculture Ministers of all states and UTs, to discuss the issues related to farmers and farming activities, arising due to the lockdown in wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Tomar’s ministry has also circulated to all states and Union terrirtories the details of Market Intervention Scheme to ensure remunerative prices for the perishable Agriculture and Horticulture Crops. The Centre assured that 50 per cent of the cost will be borne by the Government of India. However, in case of northeastern states, the Centre will bear 75 per cent of the cost.
About 7.92 crore farmers and their families have been benefitted under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme during the lockdown period from March 24 and Rs 15,841 crore has been released so far for that purpose, said the Centre on Thursday.
Advocating direct purchase, the government issued an advisory issued to states and UTs to facilitate Direct Marketing, “enabling direct purchase from the farmers/ FPOs/ Cooperatives etc. by Bulk Buyers/Big Retailers/Processors by limiting regulation under State APMC Act”.
Several states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Jharkhand have already initiated action on these lines.
Meanwhile, the Indian Railways has also been pressed into action which introduced 109 time-table parcel trains to supply essential commodities including perishable horticulture produce, seeds, milk and dairy products.
Approximately, 59 routes have been notified since the beginning of the lockdown on which 109 trains will ply for parcel purposes.
“With this, almost all the important cities of India will get connected for transportation of essential and perishable goods at a fast speed. It may be noted that these services are expected to be further scaled up,” said a government statement.
Meanwhile, to make it more farmer- and trader-friendly, logistics module had already been added in the e-NAM App which is being used by them.
Tomar chaired this meeting on Wednesday afternoon through video conference amid rising concerns on India’s growing need for foodgrains and essential services even as farmers are wary of their harvest. Many big farmers are finding it tough to get labour in this nationwide shutdown that is tipped to be extended further amid growing number of COVID-19 cases in India.

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