Food Corporation of India agrees to procure paddy from cultivators in Puducherry

Farmers in Puducherry produce around 99,000 tonnes of paddy per year.

Farmers in Puducherry produce around 99,000 tonnes of paddy per year.   | Photo Credit: T. Singaravelou

18,000 tonnes to be sourced from Puducherry; move to benefit 25,000 farmers.

In a major relief to around 25,000 farmers, the Food Corporation of India has agreed to procure paddy from Puducherry and Karaikal regions shortly.

In a communication to the Chairman and Managing Director of FCI and Secretary, Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Puducherry, Jai Prakash, Under Secretary to Government of India, on February 11 has conveyed the decision to start the procurement of paddy.

Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan in response to a letter written by Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy on January 15 requesting market intervention by FCI had given his consent to procure 30,000 tonnes of paddy from Karaikal and Puducherry during Kharif Marketing Season 2019-2020, said Mr. Prakash in his communication to the officials.

It might be recalled that Minister for Power R. Kamalakannan, who also holds the Agriculture portfolio, at the special session of the Assembly on February 12 accused the Lt. Governor of “threatening” FCI chairman for holding talks with the Chief Minister and Minister to discuss paddy procurement.

Gain for farmers

Terming the FCI decision a major gain for the farmers, Mr. Kamalakannan, told The Hindu on Saturday that around 20,000 paddy cultivators in Puducherry and another 4,600 farmers in Karaikal would benefit from the market intervention by FCI. Of the total quantum to be procured, 18,000 tonnes would be from Puducherry and the rest from Karaikal.

On an average per year in three seasons, farmers produced around 99,000 tonnes of paddy in the Union Territory.

The corporation last procured paddy from the U.T. 10 years ago. Since then, the government-run marketing society made attempts to intervene in the market but could not make much strides in stabilising the price because of financial constraints.

The minimum support price for paddy fixed by the Centre was ₹18.35 per kg.

In the absence of government intervention in procurement, paddy farmers were selling their product to private agencies at around ₹15 per kg.

Now, with FCI intervention, the private players will be compelled to increase the price, Mr. Kamalakannan said.

“Even if they are going to procure 30,000 tonnes of the total 99,000 tonnes produced, farmers are going to benefit immensely . So far, they have been incurring loss to the tune of ₹3000 per quintal. The market intervention by FCI will be a major boost,” said Director of Agriculture Bala Gandhi.

Next target

Mr. Kamalakannan said the next target would be to persuade FCI to supply rice to the Civil Supplies Department for free distribution through the Public Distribution System.

The FCI supplied rice to the State governments at a lower price, he said, adding that the administration could save a substantial amount if the corporation supplied rice to U.T. also. The government could renew distribution of rice through PDS outlets instead of remitting money into the beneficiaries account, the Minister added.

“The Chief Minister has already apprised Mr. Paswan on the need to supply rice. After the latest decision of FCI to procure paddy despite objections from certain quarters, we are hopeful of rolling out free distribution of rice,” the Minister said.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 1:26:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/food-corporation-of-india-agrees-to-procure-paddy-from-cultivators-in-puducherry/article30831683.ece

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