Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Post harvest losses: AP farmers suffer Rs 10,000 crore every year

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Farmers in the State lose a whopping Rs 10,000 crore worth food grains and commercial crop in the form of post harvest losses even before the produce is transported to market yards.
The total post harvest lossess of paddy alone works out to be around Rs 3000 crore. In the absence of proper post-harvest facilities, farmers face the problem of heavy wastage at the "production level" (i.e in transport from field to threshing floor, threshing and winnowing and transportation to market yards). The losses are in addition to those suffered by farmers growing horticultural crops in the absence of cold storage facilities.
The Sharad Pawar Committee on suicide of farmers has recommended better farm extension methods to help farmers get more revenue from their hard-earned produce. Heavy losses of food grains and commercial crop at the field level itself is one of the reasons for the spurt in the suicide of farmers.
According to a survey conducted by the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection, farmers in the State lose 5,34,000 tonnes of paddy even before they transport it to market yards or traders. The post harvest loss for the State works out to be around 3.22 per cent of total paddy production as against the all India average of just 2.71 per cent. Only four States - Gujarat (4.86 per cent), Bihar (4.80 per cent), Tirupura (4.42 per cent) and Assam (3.90 per cent) are ahead of Andhra Pradesh in production loss at farm level.
The survey points out that Andhra Pradesh has been losing 330 tonnes (3.62 per cent of total production) of wheat, 10,000 tonnes (1.9 per cent) of jowar, 3,200 tonnes (3.07 per cent) of bajra, 7,700 tonnes (0.84 per cent) of maize, 5,100 tonnes (3.83 per cent) of ragi, 2,500 tonnes (2.67 per cent) of red gram, 3,700 tonnes (2.67 per cent) of black gram, 4,700 tonnes (2.55 per cent) of green gram and 6,300 tonnes (2.35 per cent) of Bengal gram during winnowing and transport operations.
On average farmers lose 0.89 per cent of food grains during threshing, 0.48 per cent during winnowing and 0.79 per cent during transport.
The survey report finds fault with cooperatives and the Food Coporation of India for not properly concentrating on purchases from farmers to save them from distress sales at market yards and to middlemen. The share of direct sales by farmers to consumers (ryotu bazar concept) was a mere 3.64 per cent of total production. Cooperative societies The co-operatives purchased only 3.90 per cent while the share of the Food Corporation of India was around 9.73 per cent.
"It is a matter of introspection for the co-operative sector and the FCI to evaluate their role in marketing for the benefit of the farming community. It is also imperative to open up avenues through marketing reforms for promoting direct sales by the producer to the target group in order to enhance producer’s share in consumer's rupee," the report suggested.

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