Joyram Barman (48) of village Singimari in Dadara of Kamrup district, a mustard seed cultivator, is among the first ones in the State who is taking advantage of a farmer-friendly policy of the Assam Government.
Joyram was one of the first four mustard farmers of Kamrup district to sell his produce at Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board’s procurement Centre at Amingaon on the very first day of the Government’s mustard seeds procurement that begun on June 13.
“I have been into mustard cultivation for over two decades. Most villagers here are mustard seed cultivators. Despite bumper production, we had to sell either to middlemen or mill owners at a low price for years together. For the first time, I have sold my produce at ₹ 5,450 per quintal to a Government agency,” said Barman.
He came to know of the Government’s policy from a well-laid out network of district agricultural offices and gram sevaks. “This is a good move from the Assam Government. Over the years, we had no power to impose our rates. Things will change now. Our dependency on private players will be history,” added Barman.
Just weeks earlier, taking a cue from the Central Government, the Assam Government announced procurement of mustard seeds from farmers at MSP.
A drive to procure 45,793 metric tonnes of mustard seeds under the State Government’s Price Support Scheme for the Rabi season 2023 at the MSP began immediately after the announcement and well in time for farmers like Joyram to benefit.
Accordingly, 101 designated mustard procurement centres have been set up across the State where farmers can sell their produce to the Government.
The two nodal agencies of Assam Government that are handling the mustard seed procurement process are Assam State Agriculture Marketing Board (ASAMB) and Assam Food and Civil Supply Corporation Limited (AFCSCL).
Joyram sold 23 quintals to ASAMB and is hopeful of selling much more with an improvement in the weather.
“The Government’s mustard seeds procurementMd Zakir Hussain
process should begin from the last week of March
because the weather is generally dry and moisture
content in these seeds is less.”
Appealing to farmers to avoid middlemen and sell their produce at the procurement centres, Chief Minister Dr Sarma had said that the Government will be selling the mustard to NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd) and the money will be deposited in the accounts of the farmers within three days.
Dr Sarma said mustard production in the State has been increasing and this move will encourage farmers to go for a second crop besides paddy. According to official statistics, production of mustard in Assam during the year 2020-21 was 1,85,175 MT.
The State Government hopes that its move would ensure an additional income of around ₹ 250 crore for farmers, which, in turn, will boost the State’s economy.
As in the case of paddy, farmers will have to get the Farmer’s Certificate from their respective Agriculture Development Officers.
Individual farmers can sell up to 25 quintals of their fair average price produce per day having moisture content of a maximum 8%. Additional quantities can be sold on consecutive days.
Sources connected to the procurement of mustard seed told Asom Barta that because of humidity in Assam, moisture content is much higher than the desirable limit of 8% in these seeds. Accordingly, the State Government is in touch with the Centre for necessary relaxation in moisture content norms.
Like Joyram, Jalal Uddin (35) of Bangalmara village under Hajo revenue circle in Kamrup district has already sold 50 quintals of mustard seeds at the ASAMB in two visits on June 17 and 22 respectively.
“I have 30 bighas of agricultural lands. During the season from November to March, I cultivate mustard. Every year, we have bumper production of mustard seeds. Like me, other mustard seed farmers had to sell their produce at ₹ 4200-₹ 4500 per quintal in the open market. We struggled to make profits. You now know why I am so happy today, he told this reporter.
Jalal Uddin advocated an awareness drive about the scheme to enable it to serve its original objective.
Md Zakir Hussain (42) of Ojhagaon near Kharupetia in Darrang district sold 25 quintal of mustard seed produce at the AFCSCL’s MPC (mustard seeds procurement centre) in his village on the opening day of the statewide drive.
“I have 35 bighas of cultivable lands. Apart from paddy and vegetables, my third important cultivation is mustard. My mustard seeds production ranges from 70 to 80 quintal per year. Previously, I used to sell my produce to mill owners at ₹ 4,000 per quintal in the local weekly markets at Tangni Bazar and Balagaon.”
According to Hussain, the Government’s mustard seeds procurement process should begin from the last week of March because the weather is generally dry and moisture content in these seeds is less.