Centre may reduce the moisture content limit for wheat, paddy. Why this will hurt farmers

What is the news?

Government of India’s recent draft proposal proposes to change the moisture content limit for wheat and paddy. This has made farmers worried ahead of the rabi procurement season that begins April 2022. 

What is Moisture Content?

Moisture content (MC) is the weight of water contained in paddy or wheat expressed in percent.

The moisture content has been a sensitive issue for farmers. After harvesting, wheat absorbs moisture while rice loses it. On an average, wheat contains 15 to 22%  moisture on harvest. Farmers have to dry their produce after harvesting and even at mandis before procurement. 

However, untimely rain ahead of procurement season and lack of sheltered storage space at the mandis makes it difficult for farmers to keep their stocks dry. 

What is the new proposed moisture content limit for wheat and paddy?

Currently, farmers have to take a price cut on Minimum Support Price (MSP) when selling wheat stocks above the 12% moisture limit. Stocks with above 14% moisture are rejected.

However, according to the new rules, the ideal moisture content in wheat may be reduced to 12% from 14%. This means that wheat stocks with moisture content above 12% will not be procured even with a price cut.

In the case of paddy, permissible moisture content has been reduced from 17% to 16%.

Other provisions being discussed are reducing foreign matter in wheat crop to 0.50% from 0.75% and in paddy to 1% from 2%.

How are farmers seeing these proposed rules?

Farmers are also seeing this move as the government trying to gradually withdraw itself from the procurement operations and MSP regime. 

Source: This post is based on the article ‘Centre may reduce the moisture content limit for wheat, paddy. Why this will hurt farmers’ published in PIB on 21st January 2022.

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