States to decide when to start pulse procurement: Centre

New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) The Centre has left it to states to decide when to start procurement of pulses and oilseeds under the Price Support Scheme (PSS) amid buzz of an extension of the ongoing 21-day shutdown.

The procurement will continue for 90 days.

This was decided after Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar interacted with the agriculture ministers of all States and UTs in a video conference and discussed the issues related to farmers and farming activities following the lockdown called to contain coronavirus pandemic.

The ministry has circulated to all states and Union territories the details of the market intervention scheme to ensure remunerative prices for the perishable agriculture and horticulture crops.

The Centre said that 50% of the cost will be borne by the Centre. However, in case of north-eastern states, the Centre will bear 75% of the cost.

About 7.92 crore farmer families have been benefited under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme during the lockdown period from March 24 and Rs. 15,841 crore have been released so far for that purpose, said the Centre on Thursday.

Advocating direct purchase, the government issued an advisory to states and UTs to facilitate direct marketing, “enabling direct purchase from the farmers/ FPOs/cooperatives by bulk buyers/big retailers/processors by limiting regulation under State APMC Act”.

Several states such as 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.

Around 59 routes have been notified since the beginning of the lockdown from where 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. These services are expected to be further scaled up,” said a government statement.

Meanwhile, to make it more farmer and trader friendly, a logistics module had already been added in the e-NAM App which is being used by farmers.

Tomar chaired the meeting on Wednesday afternoon through video conference amid rising concern on India's growing need for food grains and essential services even as farmers are wary of their harvest. Many big farmers are finding it tough to get labourers following the nationwide shutdown, which may get extended further amid growing number of COVID-19 cases in India.



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