The Tamil Nadu government has begun procurement of 50,000 tonnes of copra from farmers at an enhanced rate under the Price Support Scheme for the 2019 season following approval from the Centre.
The procurement drive, which will benefit coconut farmers has begun at centres including Coimbatore and Vellore for both milling and ball copra, agriculture department sources told PTI.
A total of 45 tonnes of milling copra and 5,000 tonnes of ball copra are being procured and the sanctioned time limit for buying is six months.
Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem, Vellore, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai, Dindigul, Sivaganga, Krishnagiri, Ramanathapuram, Namakkal and Kanyakumari are among the districts from where procurement has been planned.
The new prices under the PSC are Rs 95.21 per kg for milling copra and Rs 99.20 for ball copra per kg, a substantial jump from the last year's price of Rs 75.11 (milling) and Rs 77.50 (ball).
The enhanced rates are expected to help stabilise copra prices in the market which has been fluctuating between Rs 70 and Rs 80, often lower than the support prices (before the new prices were announced) and stabilisation will aid farmers, sources added.
In Tamil Nadu, approximately 470.64 crore coconuts are produced from farming undertaken in about 4,35,621 hectares.
When copra prices began falling in the past few months, Chief Minister K Palaniswami had represented to the Centre to hike price to Rs 105 a kg under the support scheme.
Though the Centre did not accede to the plea, the hike sanctioned now is substantial to address the farmers concerns, sources pointed out.
The Centre, in a communique, has directed the Tamil Nadu government to provide revolving fund equivalent to at least 15 per cent of the procurement cost of sanctioned quantity and ensure that the payments are made directly in the bank accounts of farmers from whom procurements are made, the sources said.
Relevant government agencies, the Food Corporation of India, National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), Small Farmers' Agri-Business Consortium, and the National Cooperative Consumers Federation of India have been apprised by the Centre on the Tamil Nadu PPS for appropriate follow-up action.
Central agency NAFED, which will procure copra from Tamil Nadu government agencies, has defined the quality parameters for procurement.
On July 11, Agriculture Minister R Doraikkannu announced the new support prices in the Tamil Nadu Assembly replying to a special call attention motion and had named the Tamil Nadu State Agriculture Marketing Board and Tamil Nadu Cooperative Marketing Federation as agencies that will procure 50,000 tonnes copra.