Seeking to reassure farmers, government on Friday said it will buy even the inferior quality wheat at support price and also give compensation to those whose crop has been affected upto to two hectres.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who visited some hailstorm-hit areas and met affected farmers in Bundelkhand region, said the Centre has recently changed the quality norms for wheat procurement and raised the compensation for farmers.
Now, those farmers whose crops are damaged up to 33 per cent will be entitled for compensation. Earlier it was limited upto 50 per cent.
“Our government has made changes in the norms to purchase shrivelled grains and tweaked the standards on moisture content to help the farmers,” he said interacting with farmers and agricultural labourers at Banda in Uttar Pradesh.
The move is aimed at ensuring that wheat farmers get the full minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,450 per quintal.
The compensation in such cases will be paid from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
According to the new norms, farmers in rainfed areas will be eligible to claim assistance – in the form of input subsidy – of Rs 6,800 per hectare, compared to the current Rs 4,500.
Compensation for crops in areas with assured irrigation has been increased from Rs 9,000 to Rs 13,500 per hectare, and that for perennial (horticultural) crops from Rs 12,000 to 18,000 per hectare. The relief is subject to a cap of two hectares per farmer.
The Home Minister said the central government has released Rs 253 crore in advance to Uttar Pradesh government for distribution among the hailstorm affected farmers.
“I have spoken to Chief Minister Akilesh Yadav and told him that the central government will reimburse the amount after the report of inter-ministerial team. I have asked him to provide immediate relief to hailstorm-affected farmers,” he said.
Singh made an impromptu stopover at a farm land in Banda to meet the farmers and labourers working in the fields.
According to the official data, crop damage due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms has been reported in 106 lakh hectares in 13 states, including Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, in the current rabi season.
The Centre had already asked state governments to render immediate assistance to farmers from SDRF ( State Disaster Relief Fund) which has funds to the tune of Rs 5,270 crore for utilisation during the fiscal. The states had also been asked to submit a memorandum in case the expenditure was more than the available funds.
The total cultivable area in rabi season is 600 lakh hectares.
As per latest data, a total quantity of 158.61 lakh tonnes of wheat has been procured so far in 2015-16 rabi marketing year (April-March) as against the procurement level of 169.29 lakh tonnes in the year-ago period.
The Centre has fixed the wheat procurement target at 30.05 million tonnes in 2015-16 marketing year (April- March) as against 28 million tonnes bought by the FCI last year.
Wheat production is likely to fall by 4-5 per cent from the initial estimates of 95.76 million tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June) due to unseasonal rains.