Special Correspondent

JAIPUR: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, while advocating the cause of farmers of the State, made a strong plea to the Union Minister for Agriculture, Sharad Pawar, to immediately announce a programme for procurement of mustard at minimum support price during his two-day visit here on Tuesday.

Ms. Raje, who received Mr. Pawar at Sanganer airport here on Monday evening, apprised him of the difficulties being faced by the State Government in making arrangements for godowns for stockpiling the produce in the approaching season of mustard production. She pointed out that NAFED had not lifted the old stocks of mustard.

Ms. Raje said the mustard production this year was likely to exceed last year's figures and mustard would start reaching the mandis by January-end. There would be problems in procurement in the event of inadequate arrangements for storage, she added.

The Chief Minister requested Mr. Pawar to give directions to the NAFED officials, while making the announcement for mustard procurement, to shift nearly 40-lakh metric tonnes of mustard stockpiled in the State's godowns to the storehouses situated in other parts of the country and utilise 2-lakh metric tonnes of mustard through processing.

She suggested that godowns in the neighbouring States, such as Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, could be arranged on hire and the mustard harvest could be directly shifted there. These godowns should be reserved in advance so that they are not put to any other use.

An official release stated that Mr. Pawar appreciated Ms. Raje's suggestions and assured action in this regard.