Spurt in ragi procurement at DPCs in Dharmapuri

As part of this special millet zones were identified, Dharmapuri district was one of the few districts in Tamil Nadu chosen to pilot the initiative.
Representational image of ragi.
Representational image of ragi. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons)

DHARMAPURI: Ragi Direct Procurement Centres (DPC) in Dharmapuri, Pennagaram and Harur are humming with activity as farmers bring in their produce to avail of the attractive price.

With the procurement season period extended till August, Dharmapuri district has collected over 416.85 metric tons (mt) of ragi.

Speaking to  TNIE, M Selvraj from Nallampalli, said, "Last year the procurement centres had closed by March, but this year the period has been extended till late August. Usually, the sowing of ragi happens in the Tamil months of Karthigai (November) and we reap it in Thai (mid-March). It takes about 90 to 100 days for a successful harvest. So by the time the harvest began, the procurement closed last year. This year farmers have benefited greatly as the procurement at the DPCs has been extended till August."

Another farmer, S Shanmugavel from Harur, said "The DPC provides more price when compared to the private market. The procurement price at the DPC is `38.46, whereas it is only `32 per kg in the private market. More farmers are taking advantage of the increased access to DPCs after three of them were opened in Dharmapuri, Pennagaram and Harur."

In 2023 only 32.15 mt ragi was procured from 29 farmers despite the hike in procurement price. This year, the procurement has increased manifold after the Government of India's push for millets in line with the declaration of 2023 as the International Year of Millets by the United Nations following a proposal by India. As part of this special millet zones were identified, Dharmapuri district was one of the few districts in Tamil Nadu chosen to pilot the initiative.

Officials in the District Supply Office said, "Through ration shops 2 kg ragi is being supplied to 4.65 lakh card-holders in Dharmapuri. So the district requires over 936 mt of ragi every month. This year procurement has increased with 437.85 mt of ragi procured from 352 farmers."

Acknowledging the increased arrivals at DPC Deputy Director of Horticulture V Gunasekaran said, "Initially farmers found the requirements on registration of basic land register (andangal) and guidelines like cleaning of ragi before bringing it to DPCs tedious. Farmers are actively bringing their produce to DPCs after we addressed their grievances and streamlined the process. Last year ragi was cultivated in a total area of 15,549 acres out of which 3,418 acres were irrigated and 12,131 unirrigated. In the future, more ragi could be procured with more active participation from farmers."

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